Advocates for Labor and Progressive Institutions

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Seniority Integration Key to Recent Airline Mergers

April 2008

In April 2008, Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines announced a merger that, when consummated, resulted in the world’s largest airline.

A critical part of this and other airline mergers was the integration of the two airlines’ pilot seniority lists. (See recent article in the New York Times, discussing seniority integration in airline transactions.) Bredhoff & Kaiser lawyers have represented pilot groups in every recent major airline merger, including the America West/US Airways merger in 2007. In the Delta/Northwest merger, when the two pilot groups could not agree on a merged seniority list, Bredhoff & Kaiser’s lawyers represented the Delta pilots in an expedited arbitration hearing consisting of 12 hearing days over the course of two months to resolve the seniority issues. On December 8, a panel of three arbitrators issued an opinion largely adopting the Delta pilots’ view on how the seniority lists should be integrated.