Waldbaum's and Pathmark employees and customers on Long Island will have to wait a little longer to find out the fate of their supermarkets after the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. extended deadlines for bids and auction dates of its stores.

In a filing submitted Friday in federal bankruptcy court in White Plains, A&P set Thursday as the new deadline for bid submissions; the original deadline was last Friday.

The supermarket operator said it extended the deadlines because it wanted "to avoid logistical complications arising from" the visit of Pope Francis to New York City, which begins on Sept. 24, the convening of the United Nations General Assembly and religious holidays.

A&P also delayed from next Monday to Sept. 25 the deadline for publishing qualified bidders, selecting opening bid amounts and publishing additional stores to be included in the auction.

The dates for the auction are now Oct. 1-2, postponed from Sept. 24-25. Successful bidders will be announced Oct. 3.

On Friday, the federal bankruptcy judge, Robert Drain, approved up to $3.9 million in retention pay, to be divided among fewer than 500 executive and management employees, in an effort by A&P to prevent them from resigning while the company sells its stores. The company had initially requested about $5 million.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The judge also ordered that A&P add nearly $1.1 million toward the payment of severance to union and nonunion employees not included in the retention bonus plan. In addition, the judge said A&P would make severance payments of 52 percent of the severance amount stipulated in union contracts for each year of work.

Last month, A&P announced more than 5,000 employees at stores on Long Island could lose their jobs between October and Thanksgiving. It's still uncertain exactly how many workers will lose their jobs. Much will hinge on whether A&P can sell 153 stores, including 35 on Long Island.

Separately, Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. and Key Food Stores Co-operative Inc. are interested in buying 11 of the company's stores on Long Island. They could rehire workers now employed by A&P.