updated 9/22/2004 8:17:39 AM ET 2004-09-22T12:17:39

US Airways pilots would take pay cuts totaling 19.5 percent and senior officers could lose job protections under a new proposal advanced by the cash-strapped company, which is now flying under bankruptcy protection.

The latest offer by the nation’s seventh largest airline will be discussed Wednesday by the airline pilots union’s governing committee, Jack Stephan, a spokesman for the pilots union, said Tuesday.

“This process is on a fast track. We have precious few opportunities to hammer out an agreement. If we don’t someone else will,” said Stephan, who called each previous company proposal “progressively worse.”

“We have a difficult decision with unattractive alternatives.”

A company spokeswoman said Tuesday she could not confirm the airline’s offer to the pilots.

Stephan said the proposal to strip seniority from senior pilots, leaving them vulnerable to losing their jobs should the airline retire the planes they fly, “will raise some eyebrows” among union members.

US Airways Group Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sept. 12 for the second time in two years, has said previously it needs $800 million in annual cost cuts from its labor unions to stay afloat.

In a small step forward Tuesday, US Airways and its dispatchers’ union reached a tentative agreement on a new contract for about 150 members.

Details of the agreement were not disclosed, pending the union’s communication of the agreement to its members. However, the company said the pact meets the cost-savings targets established for the work group, and represents a fair balance of productivity and work rule, pay and benefit changes.

“This was not an easy decision to make and one that will require great personal sacrifice. However, we believe it is essential to the long-term survivability of our company and in the best interests of our members,” said Don Wright, president of Transport Workers Union Dispatchers Local 545.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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