American's non-pilot workers to receive pensions

American Airlines workers

Credit: WFAA

American Airlines workers who aren't pilots will get their accrued pensions.

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on March 7, 2012 at 9:29 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 8 at 12:20 PM

FORT WORTH — From Day One of the American Airlines bankruptcy, workers expected the worst — the loss of their pensions.

But the airline, its non-pilot employees, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) sat down and started working.

The airline says it has to save $1.25 billion. Pensions were the likely target.

But ground workers and flight attendants will now get the pension proceeds that were coming to them at the time of bankruptcy.

"We think it's something that's really important, and we've worked for it since Day One," said PBGC spokesman Josh Gotbaum. "American has realized that they can do it without all the retirees paying for it."

The alternative for workers would have been nerve wracking.

They would have been left to hope that the federal government — in the form of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation — would step in and pay the money.

That option doesn't always end up leaving workers with as much as they thought was coming to them.

There is still no solution for American's pilots.

The airline said too many pilots under the current plan could ask for a lump-sum payment, too many would leave the airline, leaving the carrier without enough pilots to stay in the air.

A solution is yet to be reached.

"It's time to move to the next phase in the structuring process so we can focus on the path ahead, and restore American to industry leadership and profitability," said airline spokesman Bruce Hicks.

That goal is still in the future, but the agreement with some of the American workers is a start.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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