Northwest flight attendants want out of pay cuts

Flight attendant
A Northwest Airlines flight attendant.
MPR Photo/Jim Bickal

(AP) - Flight attendants at Northwest Airlines asked a bankruptcy judge on Monday to reconsider pay cuts in light of the carrier's improving fortunes.

After flight attendants refused to ratify an agreement, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper allowed Northwest to cut flight attendant pay and change their work rules to save $195 million a year beginning July 31.

Gropper had found that Northwest needed the concessions from flight attendants and other workers if it was to make money.

With those cuts in place, Northwest indeed made money during 2006, sort of. It reported a $301 million pretax profit if bankruptcy expenses are excluded. Including bankruptcy expenses it lost $2.84 billion for the year.

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In a bankruptcy court motion filed Monday, flight attendants argued that Northwest's business plan, drafted in late 2005, proved overly pessimistic. It said Northwest was on track to achieve a 6.5 percent pretax profit margin in 2007, instead of 2010 as its earlier plan expected.

Falling oil prices and higher ticket prices have helped Northwest and other airlines over the past year.

Flight attendants also argued that worker concessions were based on the idea that creditors would lose money, too. But with bankruptcy claims trading for 86 cents on the dollar, creditor pain will be minimal, the flight attendants argued.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)