INDIANAPOLIS – The ATA Airlines group of the Air Line Pilots Association has negotiated more than $2 million in cash payments to flight crewmembers of the former carrier, as well as a new jobs program aimed at putting former ATA pilots and flight engineers back to work at ATA’s sister airlines. The cash payments and preferential hiring program with World Airways and North American Airlines were announced as part of a bankruptcy settlement agreement ratified September 3 by ATA’s former employees, including four of ATA’s unions. The agreement will be incorporated as part of a bankruptcy plan of liquidation and is subject to Bankruptcy Court approval.
“We believe this agreement is the best choice for many ATA families who are still struggling to pay bills and rebuild lives shattered by overwhelming corporate greed,” said former ATA First Officer Don Wurster, who serves as ALPA’s custodian for the ATA cockpit crewmember group. “Money alone will never ease the pain caused when our careers crumbled at the airline that we built; however, some much needed cash and new jobs may help some of us move on and continue in the aviation profession.”
ATA declared bankruptcy for the second time in four years in the late-night hours of April 2, 2008. It shut down all operations a few hours later, throwing more than 2,200 employees out of work and stranding unsuspecting vacationers and military personnel around the world.
The settlement reached with the former ATA and its surviving holding company, Global Aero Logistics of Peachtree City, GA, covers employees represented by the ALPA, the Association of Flight Attendants, the Transportation Workers Union and the International Association of Machinists. It also includes nonunion employees who had filed a class-action lawsuit against the airline. ATA employees sued the former airline for violating a federal law known as the WARN Act, which requires 60-day notice before any company shutdown or mass employee layoff.
Under ALPA’s portion of the agreement, approximately 580 crewmembers will share a $2 million payment from ATA in exchange for dropping their WARN lawsuit and other legal actions against ATA and Global. They also stand to receive more cash in the future based on how much money ATA can recover from its former vendors, in a process known as “preference recovery.”
The combined employee groups also won a five-percent stake in any future damage awards ATA may recover from its $180 million lawsuit against Federal Express Corp. ATA sued FedEx earlier this year, saying the cargo giant’s decision to cancel ATA’s lucrative contract as a member of FedEx’s airline team for the U.S. military was directly responsible for the airline’s collapse.
Source: Air Line Pilots Association
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