AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION Comair wants to freeze pilots' salaries through 2007

The airline says the contract is critical to its long-term survival.
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Comair has asked its pilots to freeze their salaries through 2007 in exchange for concessions in settling grievances and other work rule issues.
Pilots will vote through March 1 on the contract proposal the regional airline says it needs to buy new planes critical to its long-term survival.
J.C. Lawson III, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association, said the union and the company have not disclosed what the pay freeze would save the airline. Comair's pilots are among the highest-paid among regional airlines, earning between $23,000 and $109,000.
Comair president Fred Buttrell made the proposal after a computer system failure forced the airline to cancel Christmas Day flights, stranding thousands of passengers.
The pay freeze for about 1,800 Comair pilots would begin June 1 or when the airline takes delivery on a new aircraft, whichever comes last. It would conclude at the end of 2007, if a new contract has not been reached, according to the proposal.
The proposal
The proposal says Comair would add at least 35 new planes to its 164-jet fleet, with the freeze being lifted and retroactive pay awarded if the airline does not reach that figure by May 2008.
The current contract would be extended one year until June 2007, and pilots would receive a 2 percent cost of living increase for 2008 and every year beyond that until a new contract is reached.
In addition, pilots involved in the strike that shut down the airline for 89 days in 2001 would get those days of seniority back. Managers would have to quickly resolve grievances and other work rule issues left unresolved from the current contract.
Lawson said that apart from the pay freeze, the other items "make the existing contract better."
"These are gains for us," he said.
Comair spokesman Nick Miller declined comment on the contract proposal.