DALLAS (AP) – Flight attendants at American Eagle, the regional-flying sister to American Airlines, overwhelmingly approved a new labor contract.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said Friday that 87 percent of the employees approved the new contract with the subsidiary of AMR Corp., which is trying to cut labor costs while under bankruptcy protection.

The union said that Eagle made “substantial improvements” over the company’s original demand for concessions. The union said it won wage increases and preserved work rules.

“No one wanted to vote for this agreement, but our members recognized that doing so was in our best long-term interest,” said Robert Barrow, president of the union’s Eagle group. He said the union got “the best possible agreement in the worst of circumstances.”

Bruce Hicks, a spokesman for AMR, said the ratification vote by Eagle’s 1,700 flight attendants was “another important step forward as we continue to build the new American Eagle and create a successful future for thousands of employees.”

Hicks said the contract terms will help boost productivity and achieve cost savings while still addressing many of the union’s concerns.

AMR has negotiated cost-reducing contracts with American Airlines flight attendants and ground workers and Eagle bag handlers. This week, a federal bankruptcy judge approved the company’s request to let it throw out its contract with American Airlines pilots, who voted against the company’s last offer. Eagle is still working on deals with pilots and other groups.

AMR has tried to sell or spin off Eagle, but put those plans on hold after filing for bankruptcy protection in November.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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