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APPLE VALLEY, Minn. – This year, the airline industry continued to reel from the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and credit unions have certainly felt the sting. One of the most contentious battles occurred between Northwest Airlines and the former NWA Federal Credit Union, now known as Wings Financial Federal Credit Union. In July, 2003, Northwest Airlines filed a suit against the credit union for claims of logo and name infringement and threatened to not renew leases. That sparked a nearly year-and-a half dispute between the two that saw NCUA get involved. Both parties were locked in a stalemate that started in April 2003 when Northwest Airlines made the decision not to renew the credit union’s ATM and office leases on the carrier’s properties in certain cites. Northwest Airlines made the decision after Wings Financial said it could not pay a royalty/user fee the carrier was seeking for the use of its logo and other trademarks. The fee would have amounted to half of the credit union’s net income or $6 million annually, Wings Financial President/CEO Paul Parish told members in an April 2003 letter. In May 2003, the airline agreed to extend the leases beyond their July 5, 2003 expiration to March 31, 2004 and eventually for three years beyond that, but the dispute over the name and logo continued. NCUA stepped in when a credit union member e-mailed Regional V Director Jane Walters to see if Northwest Airlines was indeed overstepping its bounds by asking for the royalty/user fee. Based on the evidence presented to her, Walters responded in a May 2, 2003 letter that the credit union did not have to pay the fee for the use of its own trademark. In December, 2003, NWA FCU received NCUA approval to expand to a trade, industry and profession (TIP) charter to anyone working in the air transportation industry and this July, it changed its name to Wings Financial Federal Credit Union. Even the credit union’s new moniker didn’t sit well with Northwest. At the time, the airline indicated that it had claims to the “Wings” portion of the name because Wings Holding was an investment group that took Northwest Airlines private in 1989. The two parties finally settled in late 2004 without revealing any details of the settlement. Other credit unions were also impacted by their airline ties. US Airways has been hammered by a series of bankruptcy protections filings, initially having to do so in August 2002, the emerging in March 2003, and then going Chapter 11 for a second time in September 2004. Meanwhile the former US Airways Federal Credit Union made some major changes. In September, it received NCUA approval to expand to 10 counties through a community charter; changed its name to Clearview Federal Credit Union; and tapped Mark Brennan as its new president/CEO. Long-time President/CEO Joe Cirelli retired on Oct. 1 after 36 years with the credit union. Several other airline-affiliated credit unions continued to move forward with name changes and trade, industry and profession (TIP) charters. Alliant Credit Union, previously known as United Airlines Employees Credit Union, continued to add SEGs as United Airlines remained in bankruptcy protection. American Airlines Credit Union pressed on with its new TIP charter even as it saw more member delinquencies and bankruptcies than it had in its 68-year history. Continental Federal Credit Union has made the decision not to change its name. Continental Airlines left the credit union in the dark after it unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy in 1983. A mad scramble took place to make sure members were still paid on time. FAA First Federal Credit Union was also granted a TIP charter that includes serving Federal Aviation Administration employees and Southwest Airlines Credit Union continued to reap the benefits of having an affiliation with the nation’s most successful airline. [email protected]

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