updated 4/26/2006 5:29:02 PM ET 2006-04-26T21:29:02

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge on Wednesday denied Delta subsidiary Comair’s request to reject its contract with its 970 flight attendants so it can impose pay cuts the regional carrier says it needs to stay in business.

Judge Adlai Hardin in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York said in his ruling that requirements of the bankruptcy law that would allow the rejection of a collective bargaining agreement were not met.

He said Comair and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents the flight attendants, must return to the bargaining table to try to resolve their differences. Hardin said if the two sides are unable to settle, his decision would not prevent Comair from filing a second motion to reject the agreement.

Comair is a unit of Delta Air Lines Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in September along with its Erlanger, Ky.-based subsidiary.

The flight attendants had given their union authority to call a strike if Comair invalidated the contract and imposed new terms.

Comair is seeking $8.9 million in wage cuts and other savings from the flight attendants. Teamsters officials have said that the company’s demands are unfair and call for excessive concessions.

Comair said it needs the concessions by flight attendants as part of a plan to cut $42 million in annual costs. Without that cut, the carrier has said it will have to cease operations.

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