The Air Line Pilots Association recanted on Wednesday its earlier story that a Delta Air Lines captain balked at carrying passenger Frank Lorenzo, boss of strike-crippled Eastern Airlines, on a Tuesday night flight.
Capt. Jim Gray, head of the Air Lines Pilots Association's Delta division, denied remarks by another pilots union official, John Knudson, who had said a Delta pilot refused to fly upon learning Lorenzo was aboard his Salt Lake City-New York flight. Knudson said another pilot had to fly the plane.Gray said the Delta crew was initially concerned about flying Lorenzo but there was no incident as claimed by Knudson.
"The flight operated absolutely normally, with the captain who was assigned to the flight taking the flight," Gray said. "It was an uneventful flight.
"It is typical and required on all Delta flights . . . to provide a security briefing to the crew in advance of the flight of any personalities on board - they might be celebrities, bomb threats, from A-to-Z, anything that would be any operation abnormality," Gray said. "And in this case, Frank Lorenzo had a ticket on the flight and the captain was not advised of it. The crew was very uneasy about that."
But Gray said the captain, whom he did not identify, was satisfied that security was adequate and the flight operated normally to New York.
"Mr. Lorenzo got off the flight, thanked the captain for a very nice ride. The captain said thank you very much. And Mr. Lorenzo was not aware that there was any kind of problem."
John Mazor, a spokesman for the parent union in Washington, said Knudson had based his account on "sketchy and incomplete information."
Aides to Lorenzo and Delta also denied Knudson's account.
"He was on that flight, sitting there reading his newspaper," said Arthur Kent, a spokesman for Lorenzo's Texas Air Corp., which owns Eastern. "There was no incident he's aware of."
Kent said Lorenzo was sitting alone in the first-class section. Asked why Lorenzo flew Delta instead of Texas Air carrier Continental Airlines, Kent said: "Because he needed to get to New York and that was the first available flight."
The spokesman declined to say why Lorenzo was in Salt Lake City, why he flew to New York or where he was staying.
Lorenzo has been targeted by airline industry unions as the main reason for the severe problems at Eastern, which his company bought three years ago. Workers struck the airline March 4 and it filed for bankruptcy-court protection March 9.