Northwest Airlines Corp. pilots voted overwhelmingly to approve a freeze in their pensions as the company shifts to a plan based on employee contributions.
The airline and pilots' union have both supported the freeze as a way to shore up the bankrupt carrier's pension plan, which promises workers a fixed amount when they retire. Under the new plan, pilots and the company will contribute a portion of their salary to a retirement account, with no promise for a fixed payout.
Nearly 82 percent of the pilots who cast ballots voted in favor of the freeze. Northwest employs almost 5,000 pilots.
The airline is still negotiating other concessions from pilots, as well as flight attendants and ground workers. If no deal is made, Northwest will ask a bankruptcy court judge for permission to reject its union contracts at a trial set to begin Jan. 17. The unions for all three groups have said they may strike if that happens.
Northwest is Michigan's largest passenger air carrier and has a hub at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.