With the White House and federal mediators twisting arms, Northwest Airlines and its striking pilots broke a nearly two-week stalemate and announced a potential settlement.
A tentative deal was announced Thursday, the 13th day of the walkout. But the airline will remain grounded at least until the Airline Pilots Association's 17-member executive board meets Saturday to consider the plan.The board may either vote on the proposal or submit it to a full membership vote by the 6,100 pilots. No details were released.
"There's some relief that something may be ending soon," said Craig Wolfson, a local strike committee chairman. "But it ain't over 'til it's over."
Nevertheless, the company told mechanics to stop preparing planes for storage and began calling back laid-off ground workers.
Air Canada and its pilots also reached a tentative agreement Thursday to end a nine-day strike. Ratification of the agreement by the 2,100 Air Canada pilots is expected to take about three days. Canada's largest carrier said its 500 daily flights are expected to resume next Wednesday or Thursday.
Northwest spokeswoman Marta Laughlin said it would take 10 to 12 days to bring the airline back to full service. Northwest has canceled all domestic flights through Sunday and Asian and European flights through Monday.
The pilots, who went on strike Aug. 28, had been negotiating for a new contract for two years. They were seeking a 14 percent salary increase over three years, while Northwest offered 9 percent over four years. They also sought increased job security.
Northwest still faces open contracts with five other unions. The International Association of Machinists has asked the National Mediation Board to declare talks at an impasse so a 30-day strike countdown can begin.