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US Airways Strike Threat: Federal Negotiators Rushing to Head Off Crisis

Aired March 24, 2000 - 2:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: There could be turbulence tonight for US Airways and its customers. The airline says it will park its planes if the flight attendants stage random walkouts just after midnight. With just 10 hours to go, federal negotiators are rushing to head this thing off.

CNN's Frank Buckley is keeping watch at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Frank, what's new?

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, we're told that the talks are continuing between union representatives for 10,000 flight attendants who work for US Airways and the management of US Airways as that midnight deadline looms. If there is no agreement reached by midnight tonight, at 12:01, US Airways plans to shutdown its flight operations.

Flight attendants say issues in the negotiation have been resolved -- some of the smaller issues -- but the main issue, pay, is still on the table, management offering what it calls parity plus 1 percent, an average of what flight attendants make at four other major carriers plus 1 percent. Flight attendants say that actually amounts to a pay cut.

Flight attendants had planned selective work disruptions beginning tonight at 12:01. US Air, in response, decided to shut down all of its flight operations rather than subject its passengers to those selective work disruptions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICIA FRIEND, PRES., ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Our sincere hope is that, by midnight tonight, we will be able to announce that we have a tentative agreement. But if we don't, we hope that the flying public will remember that this airline shut itself down. US Airways and US Airways alone will be to blame for the pain that it causes you, your families and your communities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: US Airways ticket holders do have some options. US Airways has made arrangements with other major carriers, for those carriers to accept US Airways tickets. E-ticket holders and people who are flying on miles, however, will have to contact US Airways to make additional arrangements.

It should be noted that many of the other carriers are fairly well booked. We've talk to some of the passengers here at LaGuardia who say that they have, in fact, tried to book on other carriers. But in anticipation of this job stoppage, some of the carriers are already booked up for the weekend.

Frank Buckley, CNN, reporting live from New York.

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