Airline Workers Quick To Take Advatage Of CU's Offer

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In the first 10 days since rolling out a program to help airline workers hurting from salary cuts in that industry, Alliant FCU said some 249 members had signed up.

The credit union created its Member Assistance Program to provide financial relief to members involuntarily affected by job loss or pay cuts, such as those at United Airlines, which has struggled since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"As the nation's eighth-largest credit union, Alliant has the ability to be both flexible and responsive to members' changing needs,'' said Joe White, marketing communications officer, Alliant. "This custom-tailored program was brought about by an extraordinary circumstance that shocked the airline industry, prompting Alliant to take this bold measure to help its members.''

MAP is the third program implemented to assist members since 9/11, he said, pointing to the Emergency Loan Repayment Program and the Temporary Payment Reduction Plan, both offered to its United employees, which make up 45% of its membership.

AFCU, formerly United Airline Employees Credit Union, has $4.5 billion in assets and more than 178,000 members.

MAP covers loans for new and used cars, recreational vehicles, boats, motorcycles and airplanes, as well as unsecured loans and loans secured either by stocks or shares. Those who qualify-anyone in good standing and affected by involuntary pay cuts or job loss-can reduce their monthly loan payments by extending the term. Mortgage and equity loans are not covered by MAP because both already feature extended terms (30 years for mortgages and 15 years for equity lines of credit.) Credit cards are also excluded because the CU offers a low 2% payment. Because the monthly loan payments are reduced, the term of the loan is extended, which will result in additional interest, White said. Participation will not affect the members' credit ratings and will not preclude them from qualifying for other loans.

Immediately after 9/11, Alliant reduced loan payments by 50% over a six-month period for members who lost their jobs. A similar program that reduced loan payments up to 30% soon followed.

White said both measures were well-received by affected United employees, giving them "breathing room" to re-examine their household finances.

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