Senators Johnny Isakson and John D. Rockefeller. IV, introduced the Employee Pension Preservation Act of 2005 on April 20 to protect pensions of airline employees and to address large pension funding problems which threaten the industry’s restructuring.Ê
Gerald Grinstein, Delta’s chief executive officer, issued the following statement of support: “Senators Isakson and Rockefeller are to be commended for their leadership in introducing S. 861.Ê This legislation represents a very sensible and pragmatic approach to the airline pension funding crisis, which threatens the benefits that our workers and retirees have earned and are counting on.Ê We have joined with Delta employees, retirees, Delta’s Air Line Pilot’s Association, ALPA national and other airlines in our efforts to seek legislation in support of this employee benefit.
“Recently, Delta employee teams compromised of frontline workers, retirees, pilots and management made visits to Washington, D.C., to discuss their concerns directly with members Congress.Ê These efforts have complemented the visits that Delta Chairman Jack Smith and I have made to present our case directly to Congress and the Bush Administration.Ê I expect these communications will intensify now that Senators Isakson and Rockefeller have put forth a very sound solution that properly addresses the interests of government, the workers and management.Ê
“On behalf of the people of Delta, I would like to offer my whole-hearted support to S. 861. We are most grateful to Senators Isakson and Rockefeller for their willingness to stand up for the interests of airline employees, to preserve their retirement benefits and to responsibly reduce the risk for plan termination and government takeover.”
Delta and other airlines have substantial pension payments due over the next four years.Ê These payments have the potential to severely affect Delta’s cash position. Delta, along with other carriers, needs a solution that provides an affordable way to fund benefits already earned by employees.Ê EPPA would allow Delta and other airlines to make payments to its pension plan over a 25-year period, rather than the current five-year timeline.Ê With bankrupt airlines terminating their pension plans entirely and the industry transitioning away from defined-benefit plans, Delta is asking Congress for help to ensure that the benefits people earned will be paid.