Continental pilots call for renewed focus on contract negotiations


HOUSTON, TX – Continental airline pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), are pressing for a renewed focus on negotiations for a new contract. The pilots’ contract becomes amendable today, December 31, 2008. Negotiations for a new contract first began back in July 2007. To date, the parties have completed tentative agreements for eight sections of the contract, but dozens more remain untouched, including prime issues such as pay, work rules, benefits, and retirement.

Said Capt. Jay Pierce, leader of the Continental pilots’ unit of ALPA, “Our pilots have been working long enough under the concessions of our current contract – over $200M in concessions each year since it was signed in 2005. The givebacks that were designed to help keep Continental out of bankruptcy were a ‘loan’ to secure our futures – that ‘loan’ was due December 31, 2008, and now it is past due. We’re calling for an earnest effort by management to negotiate a new contract.”

Although much of 2008 was a tough year for airlines, the industry is now seeing record low fuel prices and increased revenue through added fees and more profitable routes. Continental is poised for a turnaround in 2009. Said Capt. Pierce, “Just as we were a partner in sharing the pain needed to prevent bankruptcy, we should be a full partner in the plans for the future. What the pilots are owed is more than relief from concessions. We need relief from the fatigue and stress of flying more hours, strengthened quality of life through our work rules, strengthened retirement and benefits that are there for us when we need them, and more robust job security protections as Continental changes its alliance structure.”

ALPA represents 52,500 pilots at 36 airlines in the US and Canada, including the nearly 5,000 pilots at Continental Airlines.