News Releases

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Isakson Vows to Keep Pushing Legislation
to Protect Airline Pensions, Taxpayers
in Wake of Delta Bankruptcy Filing
Urges Head of PBGC to Help Protect Delta Employees' Pensions  

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) today vowed to continue pushing for passage of his legislation to protect airline employee pensions in the wake of Delta Air Lines' announcement Wednesday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Isakson has been talking continuously with Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein over the past few months, and Isakson praised Grinstein and Delta employees for working together during that time to try to resolve the company's financial woes.

"Delta and its employees have shown how strongly committed they are to turning this great company around, and I am equally as committed in my desire to help them," Isakson said. "I will redouble my efforts to pass airline pension legislation. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass airline pension legislation so that the interests of the airline employees and the interests of the American taxpayers are protected."

Isakson also placed a call Wednesday to Bradley Belt, Executive Director of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, to urge him to do everything possible to salvage Delta's employee pension plan.

Isakson introduced bipartisan legislation in April to address the airline pension crisis. For the past five months, Isakson has been working with the Senate Finance Committee as well as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on which he serves on how best to protect taxpayers and airline employee pensions.                                                                 

In April, Isakson and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) introduced the "Employee Pension Preservation Act of 2005," which would allow airlines to spread their pension plan funding over a more manageable schedule of 25 years - instead of the current four years - and under more stable, long-range terms. Before an airline can use one of the options in the bill, it must have an affirmative vote of its union employees. Isakson's bill is co-sponsored by Senators Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

The bill also protects taxpayers by limiting the liability of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, which likely would have to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to meet its obligation to pay airline pensions if one or more carriers declared bankruptcy.

Isakson's bill has the support of airline employees, their collective bargaining organizations and their employers. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) has introduced an identical bill in the House.