United Airlines' big competitors are looking first to Capitol Hill, not bankruptcy court, to offset the advantage gained by the No. 2 airline in dumping its pension plans.
The ruling Tuesday in Chicago by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff allowing United to walk away from its pensions is expected to save the airline $645 million annually, a huge advantage in the highly competitive &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2001/04/24/4084_.html ' target=_blank> airline business. While other struggling carriers may quickly want to level the playing field, none are rushing into bankruptcy court to accomplish what United has.
Instead, American, Delta, Continental and Northwest favor some version of pending legislation that would allow them to stretch out over a period of years the payments needed to eliminate the underfunding of their plans.
United's four pension plans, which cover 120,000 active and retired workers, are underfunded by $9.8 billion, informs the USA Today.
According to the New York Times, United's bid for further cuts, on top of those granted by workers shortly after the company filed for Chapter 11 protection, has angered union members.
On Wednesday, members of the machinists' union voted to strike if their leaders authorize a walkout. The mechanics' association has also said it could strike if the judge sets aside its contract and imposes less-generous terms.
Members of the Association of &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2002/07/31/ ' target=_blank>Flight Attendants, meanwhile, have said they could stage unannounced ministrikes, even though flight attendants have approved a new contract with the airline.