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American, Pilots Reach ‘Agreement In Principle’

By Ryan Crowe, Jason Allen & Jack Fink, CBSDFW.com

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – American Airlines’ parent company and the union representing pilots inside the airline have reached an ‘agreement in principle’ Friday afternoon.  The potential deal came after nearly six weeks of negotiating over how the Fort Worth-based airline should go forward.

Friday afternoon Allied Pilots Association Communications Director Gregg Overman sent out a note about the agreement, saying the APA board voted 13-2 to present AMR Corproration, the parent company for American, with a counter-proposal to their provisions of a new contract.

According to Overman, AMR management agreed to the proposal, ending the debate as the company tries to pull the airline out of bankruptcy.

The APA is still finalizing contract language, and the board will vote next week on sending the tentative agreement to union members to vote on.

Earlier this year AMR reached deals with the unions representing flight attendants and maintenance workers.

The APA overwhelmingly rejected American’s ‘last, best final offer’ in August.  Then, after a bankruptcy judge granted American permission to throw out the pilots’ existing contract, the airline experienced major disruptions in service.

Even though the union denied any involvement, angry pilots acting on their own forced the airline to delay and cancel hundreds of flights by increasing maintenance requests or calling out sick.  American’s on-time performance plummeted in September, before improving last month.

It’s arrival performance ranked near the bottom of the pack for domestic airlines Thursday.

American spokesman Bruce Hicks said the airline was pleased with the potential agreement, saying “We worked hard with the APA’s negotiating committee to structure an agreement that addresses the priorities identified as most important to our pilots, while staying within the economic framework supported by the Unsecured Creditors’ Committee to ensure American’s successful restructuring.”

APA president Keith Wilson said he believes the deal meets the pilots demand for an industry standard contract, on par with Delta and United. He would not say what compromises the two sides reached.

Sources with access to the negotiations have told CBS11 that decisions over the size of regional jets American wants to use, and who would fly them, were the remaining road blocks to the deal.

Insiders Friday said they believed the potential agreement met the standard pilots were looking for.

AMR is one of Fort Worth’s largest employers, operating American Airlines and American Eagle.  American’s main hub is located at DFW International Airport.