* Current exclusive window set to end Jan. 28
* Creditors would be barred from proposing restructuring plans
* US Airways in effect blocked from making hostile bid
By Nick Brown
NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) - American Airlines’ bankrupt parent has asked a judge to extend by six weeks, through March 11, the period in which it has the exclusive right to propose a plan to exit bankruptcy.
The request, made jointly with its creditors’ committee, was filed on Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. The current exclusive window is set to end on Jan. 28.
AMR Corp filed for bankruptcy a year ago in hopes of reducing labor costs and returning to profitability.
Its smaller competitor, US Airways Group Inc, is making a push to acquire it out of bankruptcy. AMR said earlier this year it would prefer to exit as a standalone company, but is discussing merger options, including with US Airways.
Friday’s filing is a sign that discussions with creditors on how to bring AMR out of bankruptcy are progressing cooperatively, if a bit slower than initially expected.
“American and the (creditors’ committee) believe that the proposed extensions will facilitate the expedition of the chapter 11 cases and benefit all parties in interest,” the filing said.
Sean Collins, a spokesman for American, said in a statement that the company “has made significant progress in its restructuring.”
“The work, while progressing well, takes time,” he said.
The exclusivity period bars creditors and other parties from proposing their own plans for how AMR should exit bankruptcy.
That effectively blocks US Airways from making a hostile bid, as any merger plan unveiled during exclusivity would have to be proposed by AMR itself.
AMR’s pilots union, in the midst of bitter contract talks with the company, supports a US Airways merger and called Friday’s extension request a sign that “things are proceeding in a positive way.”
“We assume that the strategic alternative talks, which include US Airways, are functional,” union spokesman Dennis Tajer said.
A hearing on the extension request is set for Dec. 19.
The case is In re AMR Corp et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-15463.