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Pensions on a Precipice

By Amy Borrus

So would ditching pension plans help the airline industry restructure?

Knocking out costly pensions alone won't offset the traditional carriers' triple whammy of the post-September 11 travel drop-off, high fuel prices, and the proliferation of low-cost carriers. And terminating plans can be a two-edged sword. "There is always the danger that the unionized workers who lose their pensions will want some sort of quid pro quoreduced productivity or more flexible work hours," says Stuart Klaskin of aviation consulting firm Klaskin, Kushner & Co. in Miami.

Consider the fate of US Airways. The carrier looked like it might pull out of its tailspin 17 months ago, when it filed for Chapter 11 and dumped its pilots' pension plan, underfunded

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