Settle, Or Else: Part Two
The federal bankruptcy court may be hoping some tough love will
help Delta Air Lines -- and now it's regional subisidiary, Comair
-- to settle their respective differences with pilots and flight
attendants. Aero-News reported last week on the strong
words a federal arbitration board had for Delta management and its
pilots union... and this week, it's Comair's turn.
Late Monday, the judge overseeing the Comair bankruptcy trial
strongly urged Comair and its flight attendants to settle their
differences... or face the inevitable consequences.
"I have a sense of wonderment that either side is interested in
having the court decide this matter, although I stand ready to," US
Bankruptcy Judge Adlai Hardin said after hearing that Comair could
be forced to shut down without $8.9 million in annual cost cuts --
and, that the flight attendants union could strike if he voids its
"From what I hear from both sides, neither alternative is very
good," Hardin added. "This is not a situation where I can split the
baby... and there is very little time before the end of these
proceedings and my ruling."
Hardin has until April 10 to reach a solution on the matter --
although he also warned both sides that he is "disposed to do that
much sooner," according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Comair, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta, filed for bankruptcy
on the same day its parent company did -- September 14, 2005.
Proceedings during its bankruptcy trial have mirrored those of
Delta in many ways... including similar levels of animosity between
management and its workers.
Officially, both management and the flight attendants say
they're willing to keep talking... but many issues remain --
including Comair's refusal to guarantee jobs, in exchange for
"Are we still willing
to talk? Yes," Teamsters national representative Victoria Gray said
Monday. "We would rather not be here at all. But on the key points
we are looking for, we don't even have a starting point because the
company refuses to broach the subject."
Comair spokeswoman Kate Moser replied the company was willing to
keep talking, but job protection was not an item the company was
considering in its proposed agreement.
"A restructured Comair is the best job protection the company
can offer," she said -- a sentiment echoed by the airline's
"If Comair cannot restructure... it will not survive long term,"
Comair lawyer Robert Span said in his opening statement for the
three-day hearing. "The simple reality is that air travel has
become a commodity market, and... only the companies that can
compete on costs will survive."