Thursday, October 23, 2008

Isakson, Chambliss Urge Delta Air Lines, Pilots’ Union to Reconsider Termination of Retired Pilots’ Pensions

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today sent a letter to Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson and Captain Lee Moak, Chairman of the Delta Air Lines Master Executive Council, urging them to reconsider a proposal to make a voluntary contribution to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation for the benefit of retired Delta pilots and to work toward finding a solution that protects the earned benefits of employees and retirees alike.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. Anderson and Captain Moak:

As you know, we worked tirelessly on behalf of the Delta employees, retirees, and their families to pass into law provisions allowing airlines to spread their pension plan funding over a more manageable schedule. We did this to protect the 91,000 Delta Air Lines pensioners and family members in Georgia from losing their pensions and to help protect American taxpayers from having to pay for those airline pensions.

We understand that over 5,500 retired Delta pilots have had their retirement plan terminated and turned over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Our understanding is that a majority of retired Delta pilots receive only a small percentage of the monthly retirement benefit they earned while employees of Delta. We are also told that a number of retired pilots receive zero benefit from the PBGC, and many more get a monthly PBGC payment that equals half or less than half of their Social Security benefit check. Finally, we are told that Delta will be assuming the pension liabilities for over 30,000 Northwest employees and retirees.

A group representing thousands of retired pilots recently sent a proposal to you, Mr. Anderson, asking Delta to make a voluntary contribution to the PBGC that would partially correct this issue. They also raised the issue at the September 25, 2008 shareholders meeting. As proponents of legislation designed to save these pensions, we were disappointed to hear that the response from Delta at that meeting was that this was considered a closed issue.

We urge you both to reconsider your positions, and to work towards finding a solution that protects the earned benefits of all employees and retirees. We appreciate your attention to this matter, stand ready to assist you in any way possible, and look forward to your response.

Johnny Isakson
United States Senator
Saxby Chambliss
United States Senator
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