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Tue, Aug 22, 2006

US Airways Pilots To Picket In PHL

Pilots: Profitable Quarters Mean There's Money To Be Had

It's a sign of the times in Philadelphia... where US Airways pilots plan to picket Tuesday. It's also the latest in a series of signs that all is not well in the newly-formed partnership between US Air and America West.

The pilots say they're no longer willing to accept management statements that there's just no money for pay and benefit hikes -- despite the fact the airline has enjoyed two consecutive profitable quarters to date, and had one of the highest profit margins in the entire airline industry in Q2.

"We should fold up our briefcases and go home if they think for one minute this is going to be a cost-neutral contract," said Jack Stephan, chairman of the US Airways pilots union. Stephan told the Arizona Republic.

As US Airways pilots prepare to take to the picket line -- if only for a day -- for their part, America West pilots are staying out of the fray... for now.

"As we start to get to the more divisive issues, there's going to be a time when the message is going to be sent clearly to the company that we will not subsidize this merger," said spokeswoman Tania Bziukiewicz of the America West unit of the Air Line Pilots Association.

A spokeswoman for US Airways repeated the company's position that when it comes to running a successful airline, you have to look ahead -- and not count on past success.

"You can't drive looking in the rear-view mirror," Elise Eberwein said. "We have to look out one year, three years, five years. We have to make sure we're in a position to compete aggressively and that means keeping our costs where they are today."

Both groups are due to start negotiations between now and the end of summer.

FMI: www.usairways.com, www.alpa.org

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