More Bad Omens for Airline Workers

Or, How to Make an Albatross Fly

Why should Minnesotans care about the proposed merger in the headlines today, of America West and US Airways? Because the airline industry in general has been illin' for some time, and while Northwest is not, like US Airways, in Chapter 11, or, like America West, recently recovered from a bankruptcy reorganization, it is still racking up red ink.

In the past, Northwest has appealed to Minnesota politicians by claiming that taxpayer assistance is the only way to forestall bankruptcy, which would cost us good jobs, and via thinly veiled murmuring campaigns suggesting its could move its headquarters and largest hub to a more generous community.

This time, Northwest is looking for welfare in the form of a billion-dollar airport expansion--a more roundabout boost than they got during the last recession. Last month, when state Senate DFLers tried to stop the Metropolitan Airports Commission from aquiescing, they got a taste of the guise the Chicken Little argument might take this time:

MAC Chair and Pawlenty intimate Vicki Tigwell ?said that some economic development authority somewhere could come in and pay that loan off on behalf of Northwest and then they could leave. Tigwell also said that the MAC has no control over other airlines, that they could merge into one big airline and we'd have no control over it." (Tigwell's comments may prove particularly resonant in light of rumors that one of Northwest's long-term plans is a wholesale merger with the U.S. airlines in its "SkyTeam" alliance, Delta and Continental.)


Click here if you want to read the rest of that refresher on Northwest's past efforts to get Minnesotans to cushion its recessionary pains with tax money.


It's just the latest in a string of bad news for the airline's union workers: Last week, a federal judge agreed that, in an effort to get out of Chapter 11, United could dump its pension plans and transfer $5 billion in unmet obligations onto U.S. taxpayers. And earlier this week Northwest's pilots urged the airline's other union employees to accept pay cuts and other concessions to help the carrier (which we can't not note has repeatedly raised executive pay while dunning workers).


Pissed? Get up tomorrow, Saturday the 21st, and attend a forum put on by Minneapolis's longtime airport noise activist group, SMAAC, and attended by Sen. Mark Dayton. The forum will run from 11 to 1 at the Richfield City Hall, 6700 Portland Ave. S.

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