Eastern Airlines has sold its profitable Northeast shuttle to developer Donald Trump, the carrier said Wednesday, and a union attorney immediately said he would seek a federal court order against the sale.
Trump and Frank Lorenzo, chairman of Eastern's parent Texas Air Corp., scheduled a news conference in New York to talk about the deal, which reportedly cost Trump $350 million and includes gates in New York, Washington and Boston and 17 Boeing 727s.Attorney Joseph Guerreri, representing Eastern Machinists, said he was readying a request to U.S. District Court in Washington to grant an injunction against the sale.
"The sale of the shuttle is the death knell of Eastern Airlines as we know it. We just can't allow the employees to be walked over in this manner. We intend to keep Eastern Airlines a viable entity by seeking to enjoin this sale," Guerreri said by telephone from Washington.
Eastern spokeswoman Karen Ceremsak confirmed that pilots and flight attendants unions were informed of the sale Wednesday but did not disclose details.
The sale marks another tumultuous chapter in the saga of Eastern, the Miami-based carrier that has been scarred by management-labor feuding and $1 billion in losses over the past decade.
Texas Air purchased Eastern in 1986 but hasn't been able to reverse its losses. The carrier's militant unions have vowed to oppose any sale of the shuttle on grounds it was a prelude to destroying the airline and their jobs.
Nancy Currier, vice president of the Transport Workers Union local representing Eastern flight attendants, said Eastern management had told the union a copy of the agreement would be sent to the unions later.
Currier had no details, but said management informed the unions that current labor contracts, including salaries, would be maintained. She declined comment on the union's plans pending study of the sale agreement.
"ALPA's position all along has been we would oppose the sale," Ron Cole, spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association local representing Eastern pilots, said Tuesday. "We will take whatever legal means is possible."
The Miami News quoted an unidentified source it said was close to Eastern as saying Trump would pay more than $350 million for the shuttle.
The Boston-New York-Washington shuttle is considered Eastern's crown jewel. Eastern officials testified recently that the shuttle is the airline's only remaining profitable operation.