Business & Finance

Delta Air Lines and its pilots union reached a tentative agreement Monday that will allow the cash-strapped carrier to recall newly retired pilots on a limited basis. The move will help it to cope with staff shortages that threaten to ground flights. The accord still must be ratified by the 7,500-member Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The agreement does not address Delta's insistence that it requires at least $1 billion in pay and benefit cuts from pilots if it is to avoid bankruptcy. But the airline has assured the ALPA it won't terminate the pilots' pension plan before February even if it files for bankruptcy.

A bold two-year-old, multibillion-dollar program to keep Japan's struggling commercial banks from failing by buying up their stock will end next week, the central bank announced in Tokyo. Analysts told the Financial Times that the decision by the Bank of Japan (BoJ) indicates it believes enough now has been done to restore stability to the system. Since the program began in September 2002, the BoJ has bought almost $18.2 billion worth of shares in wobbling commercial and regional banks - far less than the $66 billion it indicated at the time that it might purchase. The identities of those banks have been kept secret, but the BoJ said Tuesday it will resell their stock over a span of 10 years, beginning in the spring of 2007.

A week after being sold back to its parent, cellphone service provider Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. of Montreal said it would pay $1.08 billion for rival Microcell. The combined company will be the industry's largest in Canada. Microcell, also based in Montreal, has enjoyed strong sales growth since emerging from a brief bankruptcy last year. Full control of Rogers Wireless was reacquired by Rogers Communications Sept. 13 from AT&T Wireless of the US for $1.4 billion.

Demand for its commercial vehicles has been so strong, DaimlerChrysler announced, that it will need 4,000 more employees by the end of the current fiscal year. A spokes-man said many of the new hires already are at work in the company's Freightliner truck division, which is based in Portland, Ore.

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