Pilots and management at Northwest Airlines, the nation's fourth-largest airline, are still a long way apart on a new contract. This week, pilots are beginning to vote on whether or not to authorize a strike. If pilots vote yes, which it appears they will, they could strike as early as next month... right in the heart of the Spring Break travel season.
Pilots are upset at the airline's attempt to have their contracts revoked, under bankruptcy law. Northwest is in Chapter 11 protection. If the contracts are voided, Northwest could drastically cut pilot pay, and contract-out a lot of flying to outside groups... at a much lower pay rate. Pilots would be looking at a pay cut in the 30% to 50% range... and they would be some of the lowest-paid pilots in the country.
"So what does this mean to me?"
If you've booked a ticket for travel over Spring Break, or over the summer, on Northwest, it's important to monitor the progress of the strike vote. Should pilots go on strike in March, there's no way the airline will be able to operate. Many experts say, if pilots strike, it's likely Northwest would liquidate... and end service for good.
The pilots' union knows that, too. If they strike, they're likely signing their own unemployment check. So that might be a factor that would work against a strike.