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American Airlines’ CEO Meets Pilot Union Leaders Face To Face For First Time

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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – After a bitter battle between American Airlines management and the Allied Pilots Association for years, CEO Tom Horton met with union leaders face to face for the first time.

When Horton came out nearly three hours later, his team wouldn’t allow him to answer reporters’ questions or give details of the meeting.

Mr. Horton said, “I think the meeting should be between us and the folks in the room.  But I would say a lot of give and take and a lot of discussions on the future of the company.  We were talking about the bright future that American Airlines has on the other side of restructuring, and of course our pilots are big stakeholders in the future of this company.”

The meeting comes nearly a week after pilots agreed to a new contract with American.

That deal gives pilots a nearly 14 percent equity stake in the new airline that leaves bankruptcy, and a say on how it’s run.

A spokesman for the Allied Pilots, Tom Hoban, says American’s CEO doesn’t want a merger with US Airways.

Mr. Hoban said, “He made his case for the stand alone plan, which is something we as a group don’t buy-in. He made a passionate case for why he believes American can succeed without a partner going forward.  The problem with the stand alone is that it simply doesn’t remedy American Airline’s problems. There are massive revenue and network disparities when compared to the recently combined Delta-Northwest and combined United-Continental. They’re simply two big for us to compete with.”

The union says American can only succeed if it merges with US Airways, under that company’s management, not American’s.

Pilots union leaders say the creditors favor a consensual merger during American’s bankruptcy, and now want management and pilots of both airlines to reach a short-term agreement.

Hoban said, “They want to see labor peace in the near-term and that all parties are on board with this prospective merger while inside bankruptcy.”

Reuters is quoting sources that American Airlines’ creditors want an all-stock deal in a merger with U-S Airways.

The pilots union says it will meet with US Airways’ CEO Doug Parker next week.

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