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Former TWA Pilots Win $53 Million In Tentative Settlement

Jan 24, 2014 10:00 am

Skift Take

The former TWA pilots apparently got the shaft from their union and their airline when American acquired TWA’s assets out of bankruptcy. They were an asset that was dismissed in favor of American’s own pilots.

— Dennis Schaal

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Keith Myers  / Kansas City Star/MCT

Dennis Maloney of Prairie Village, Missouri, a retired TWA pilot, is finding it harder to make ends meet on Social Security and his TWA pension, especially as he watches his utility bills and food costs rise. Keith Myers / Kansas City Star/MCT


After a dozen years of litigation, former TWA pilots and their lawyers will share a $53 million settlement with their former union.

The pilots lost much seniority when American Airlines bought TWA out of bankruptcy in 2001. Without such job protection, only 750 of 2,300 TWA pilots remained with American by 2003.

TWA pilots sued their own union, the Air Line Pilots Association, for what they said was inadequate representation in the merger negotiations. American’s pilots were represented by another union.

“With initial damages sought in the billions, this settlement, while significant, is far less than what the plaintiffs pursued,” the Air Line Pilots Association said in a message to its members.

The settlement was dated Wednesday and filed in federal court in New Jersey. The agreement requires a judge’s approval.

More than half the settlement will be paid by insurance companies. The union said it would not have to raise dues or charge its members to pay the bill.

Under the seniority system devised in the merger, more than half of the TWA pilots were moved to the bottom of the list at American, putting them first in line for layoffs. Many of the others moved down from captain to first officer.

The attorneys’ portion of the settlement will be decided in future court hearings. ___

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