Airline sausage

Two stories out today reveal just how messy the Delta takeover of Northwest Airlines is going to be.

Locally, Delta is making noises with the Metropolitan Airports Commission that the MAC needs to start renegotiating the deal the state gave the former-hometown airline (Northwest) in exchange for agreements to keep a headquarters here. The “new” Delta is headquartered where the “old” Delta was — Atlanta. MAC officials say they’ve been trying to get Delta to offer a proposal for months. The subtext? A face-off.

Stuck in the middle? The people who don’t know whether they’ll be working here or in Atlanta.

Now that the happy faces of the takeover from a couple of weeks ago have faded, we get to see the ugly side of merging two companies with vastly different cultures and unions.

The pilots are workforce is heavily unionized at Northwest; not so at Delta. That could change with a filing, reported today by the Atlanta Constitution, by pilots that seeks a determination that Northwest and Delta are now one carrier. That would create a single bargaining unit for the pilots.

But the machinists’ union isn’t happy. It wants the two carriers considered separate airlines for now, and fears a single airline would allow Delta to get rid of the machinists’ union before employees have had a chance to get themselves organized.

If the National Mediation Board determines that Delta and Northwest are a single carrier across the company, as Delta contends, unions would have 14 days to show interest from at least 35 percent of employees in a craft or class to trigger union representation elections. Northwest is highly unionized, but at Delta, pilots were the only major unionized group.

The International Association of Machinists wants the carriers considered as separate for now, which preserves the existing unionized groups.

By the way, I’m looking for readers who now work for Delta, who are in “limbo” because of the still-undecided elements of the merger. Contact me via this form.

  • Ralf

    One thing I realized this morning as a few of the old DC9’s roared off and rattled my windows–when the fleets are merged and ‘optimized’ it will probably mean more MD-80s will be flying here.

    They are not quite as loud as the NWA’s aging 9’s, but will remain among the loudest. I had so looked forward to the impending retirement of the last DCs soon.

    The CRJ 900s and ERJ 170s (very quiet) that Northwest intended to use to replace our locally based 9s may now wander off to Atlanta, SLC, who knows!

    The old Douglas’s are workhorses, but with this urban core airport, not good neighbors! And the MD 80s that will probably be headed here are just their slightly less ill-mannered younger brothers.