Delta, Pilots Reach Tentative Agreement

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There's word of an agreement between Delta Air Lines and its pilots. A memo sent Friday from the union to its pilots says Delta and its pilots union have reached a tentative agreement on pay and benefit cuts that could avert a strike. The pilots union had threatened to strike if its contract was thrown out.

Delta has been operating under bankruptcy protection since September 2005. The Atlanta-based airline has said in court papers that a pilot strike would put it out of business.

The airline's 5,930 pilots must ratify the deal on long-term pay and benefit cuts.

An arbitration panel had until Saturday to reach a decision on the Number three U.S. airline's request to throw out its pilot contract so it could impose up to $325 million in pay and benefit cuts. That decision is now on hold with the tentative agreement, but it could resurface if the rank-and-file pilots reject the agreement.

Panel chairman Richard Bloch says he is pleased the parties have reached a tentative agreement.

The chairman of the union's executive committee, Lee Moak, said in the memo to pilots that the deal was reached early Friday. He says union leaders will meet in the next week to discuss the deal and determine whether to recommend it to the membership.