- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2000

ATLANTA (AP) Delta Air Lines canceled more flights yesterday because its pilots were refusing to work overtime while contract talks continued between their union and the carrier.

Airline spokesman Russ Williams said he could not say how many flights were affected yesterday. Delta canceled almost 300 flights over the weekend.

Mr. Williams said the airline was contacting as many customers as possible about the cancellations and was booking them on other flights.

"We'll do the best we can to accommodate our passengers," he said.

Dave Bushy, Delta's senior vice president of flight operations, said Delta normally operates 2,700 flights a day and that on a normal day fewer than two flights are canceled because of crew shortages.

Additional cancellations Sunday were blamed on snow in the Southeast, said Delta spokeswoman Jackie Pate. She did not have any numbers.

The Atlanta airline, the nation's third biggest, has been negotiating with the Air Line Pilots Association since September 1999. Many of Delta's 9,400 pilots have been refusing to sign up for overtime assignments since last month when management made a proposal that the pilots consider inadequate.

ALPA officials have told pilots that the union does not support the no-overtime campaign, but said that under their contract the pilots can decide individually whether to fly extra hours.

"We want our pilots to focus on contract negotiations and achieving a superior new agreement. That is where the union stands," ALPA spokeswoman Karen Miller said yesterday.

United Airlines and Northwest Airlines also have complained that workers involved in contract negotiations have forced flight delays or cancellations. Unions for both airlines have denied the charges.

A court hearing resumed yesterday in Minneapolis on Northwest's accusations that a slowdown by mechanics was escalating at the nation's fourth-largest airline.

Last week, United, the country's largest carrier, canceled more than 100 flights for two days in a row. Airline officials say United mechanics are defying a Nov. 17 federal court order forbidding an organized work slowdown.

Most airlines rely on pilots to fly overtime hours to staff some regularly scheduled flights. If Delta's pilots continue to refuse to work overtime, it could cause problems during the upcoming holiday period, Miss Pate said.

"We have said we would consider what our options are, including legal options," she said.


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