UPDATE Dec. 7, 2012: The pilots voted overwhelmingly to ratify the tentative agreement.
Earlier: The American Airlines pilots’ union, Allied Pilots Association, has announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with American Airlines management on its latest contract proposal.
An American spokesman reportedly said they were “pleased” to reach the agreement; the next step is a vote by pilots on whether or not to accept the new contract, a process that could take weeks.
Pilots: Still Want Merger
However, when FareCompare asked APA spokesman Dennis Tajer – who is also a pilot for the airline – if this agreement dims enthusiasm for a merger with bankrupt American and US Airways, his response was emphatic: “Absolutely not.”
Tajer, added, “We continue to believe the best plan going forward for a long term, viable and profitable company that can compete shoulder-to-shoulder with our legacy carrier peers Delta and United is through a merger of American and US Airways.” He added that pilots want the strongest airline network possible in order to best compete with its peer and they see the merger as the best possible path.
Merger – “No Foregone Conclusion”
However, air travel analyst Rick Seaney cautions a merger is by no means a foregone conclusion, noting that American’s new top management carries “less baggage” in the oft-acrimonious labor relationship. Seaney adds, “Until recently, US Airways had been using labor discord as a backdoor into its not-so-subtle attempt to merge – as American, within the context of emerging from bankruptcy, methodically sorts out longer-term labor issues – and this tactic may carry less weight, dependent on the final contract vote.”
American – Delayed Flights, Loose Seats
American has weathered a difficult autumn, suffering through thousands of delayed and canceled flights – more than 21,000 in September alone – which the airline blamed on labor strife citing a barrage of maintenance reports filed by unhappy pilots. The pilots, known to be unhappy, have nevertheless long denied any organized action or wrongdoing whatsoever.
Then there was a series of ‘loose seats’ incidents on American planes in which some of its in cabin seat seats actually came unmoored during flight.
The carrier has since apologized to passengers for its performance during this period and as a thank-you for their patience is offering extra miles through the end of the year.