Mesaba pilots reach tentative deal

Mesaba Airlines and the union for its pilots have reached a tentative contract agreement that would help cut the bankrupt airline's labor costs.

Neither the airline nor union released details about the tentative agreement, announced late Saturday afternoon.

Mesaba has been looking to slash its annual labor costs by 17.5 percent. The airline has indicated it would achieve that savings through wage, benefit and other cuts.

The pilots' union said the proposal is under review by union leaders. The leaders will will review the final language of the offer before deciding if it will be put to a ratification vote. That review is expected to be completed in a few days.

Mesaba and its flight attendants and mechanics continue bargaining on cost-cutting contracts.

Mesaba has court court approval to impose contracts on some 1,100 union workers. It has refrained from doing that, saying it prefers to negotiate consensual deals.

The unions' hand at the bargaining table was greatly weakened when a bankruptcy judge ruled workers cannot strike if Mesaba imposes wage and other cuts on them.

Mesaba provides regional air services to Northwest Airlines. Mesaba flies passengers between Northwest's hub airports and smaller cities, such as St. Cloud and International Falls.

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