Oct 23 The union representing American Airlines
pilots said on Tuesday that talks on a new labor contract with
the airline were moving forward, but the airline said only that
it was continuing to work toward a deal.
American and its parent AMR Corp have made
"encouraging" changes to some positions in recent talks, said
Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association.
"As long as AMR continues in this fashion, then progress is
being made ... and at some point there's no more items to
discuss," he said.
American declined to comment on Tajer's remarks, but said
in a statement issued by spokesman Bruce Hicks: "American
Airlines remains committed to reaching a consensual agreement
that addresses the interests of our pilots and meets the
economic needs of the company.
"We will continue to work hard at the negotiating table to
do just that. As we said at the beginning of the negotiations,
we are not going to provide any updates."
American and its pilots have been negotiating a labor
contract since 2006. Last November, the airline filed for
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to restructure and reduce costs
as some other major U.S. airlines have done. The airline also is
evaluating a potential merger with US Airways Group.
Earlier this year, American reached agreement on
concessionary contracts with its major work groups except the
pilots, who voted down a tentative agreement in August.
Ray Neidl, an aerospace analyst with Maxim Group, said the
airline and the pilots badly want an agreement and that he
expects an accord soon.
American wants to exit bankruptcy, Neidl said. Even though
the airline is not required to have a pilot agreement to exit,
"I think they are feeling heat from the creditors that they want
Tajer said pay and outsourcing of work to pilots not
represented by the union were still at issue in the talks.
"Some of the more contentious issues are pay and scope," he
Tajer said the airline had improved on an earlier, tentative
agreement by offering better disability plan terms and moving
Boeing 737-700 and Airbus A319 pilots into the same pay band as
those who fly the larger-capacity 737-800 plane.
American and its parent, based in Fort Worth, Texas, also
agreed to moratoriums on closing pilot bases, the union said.
American and the union went back to the bargaining table
earlier this month after September flight cancellations and
delays that American blamed on a slowdown campaign by pilots.
Incidents in which seats came unbolted from the floor on
American flights in recent weeks also raised concerns about
safety at the airline, which is the third-largest U.S. carrier.
The pilots union has said it has not called a work slowdown
against the airline.
A U.S. bankruptcy judge in September allowed American
Airlines to toss out its old collective bargaining agreement
with the pilot union and impose stricter work terms as it
restructures, further inflaming tensions with the pilots. The
union is appealing that decision.
Pilots at American have stressed a desire for a labor
contract that is on par with those at rivals such as Delta Air
Pilots union members at Delta, the least unionized of the
major U.S. carriers, ratified a new labor deal in June that
provided a 4 percent pay rate increase as of July 1, among other
Tajer said that even if the pilots union reached a tentative
agreement with American, it still supported a merger with US