Business & Finance

Bankrupt US Airways, which has been struggling to cut wages, reached a new labor agreement with its flight attendants to reduce their pay by nearly 10 percent, half as much as the temporary 21 percent pay cut imposed by a bankruptcy judge. The new contract allows for 1 to 2 percent pay raises to begin in 2007 and extend through 2011. In other industry news:

• No other airline immediately followed the lead of Delta Air Lines, which on Tuesday sliced fares by as much as 50 percent, but Northwest and US Airways matched Delta's fares on some routes where they compete. Meanwhile, analysts warned that if other major carriers copied Delta, industry revenues could drop as much as $3 billion.

• Southwest Airlines Co. announced plans to start offering service from Pittsburgh, where US Airways is dismantling its hub, this spring. Analysts said the new flights, planned for May, could speed the demise of US Airways Group Inc., which remains the dominant carrier in Pittsburgh. Southwest, which is based in Dallas, moved into Philadelphia, another US Airways hub, last May.

Ten former WorldCom Inc. board members will personally contribute $18 million to help settle a 2003 class-action lawsuit brought by investors who lost billions when the company collapsed following a massive accounting scandal. The payments, designed to make an example of the board members, will be supplemented by $36 million from the directors' liability insurers. As the Monitor went to press, the agreement was expected to be signed and approved in a US District Court in Manhattan.

Under pressure from shareholders, ConocoPhillips chose not to renew its membership in the Arctic Power lobbying group focused on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, CBS MarketWatch reported Wednesday. Congress is expected to debate the issue of drilling in the refuge early this year.

Further consolidation in the wireless-carrier industry is brewing, according to The New York Times, which said Thursday that Alltel is in advanced negotiations to buy Western Wireless for $4 billion. The companies use the same wireless technology, and could fuse complementary geographic footprints: Alltel operates mostly in the Midwest and Southwest; Western Wireless in the West.

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