UAL Pilots Ask Court to Force Pension Payments

October 6, 2005 ( - Two airline pilots' unions have returned to bankruptcy court to ask a judge to order United Air Lines to make its October pension payments.

The Rocky Mountain News reports that the Air Line Pilots Association and United Retired Pilots Benefit Protection Association are fighting to have United forced to make around $6 million in October pension payments from a non-qualified plan to retired pilots and dependents.   About 3,300 retirees and beneficiaries nationwide were receiving monthly benefits from the plan, the news report said.

Last month the bankruptcy court agreed that United could terminate its qualified pension plan for pilots and hand it over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) as of December 30, 2004 (See  United Pilots Lose Fight to Keep Pension Alive ).   According to the Rocky Mountain News, the judge also at that time indicated that he would allow United to discontinue non-qualified pension payments (See  United Announces Non-Qual Pilot Pension Payment Suspension ).   “We believe that because of that ruling, United no longer has to make nonqualified payments,” said United spokeswoman Jean Medina, according to the news report.

United has requested a written ruling that would initiate the transfer of the qualified plan to the PBGC, but that request has so far been denied.   The unions are asking that United be required to make pension payments up until the transfer, the Rocky Mountain News said.

In addition, the Chicago Tribune reports that the two unions have filed an emergency motion saying the airline also should still be processing pending retirement applications, including those of about 25 pilots who have asked for partial lump sum payments of pension money owed them.