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Pilots' Union Rejects Contract At American Eagle

Thu, 02/13/2014 - 1:43pm
David Koenig, AP Airlines Writer

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Union leaders have rejected a contract offer for pilots at American Eagle, raising fresh doubts about the fate of the regional-flying wing of American Airlines.

Eagle wanted the pilots to make labor-cost concessions in exchange for getting new, larger planes. Leaders of the local Air Line Pilots Association chapter rejected the offer Wednesday without sending it to members for a vote.

Union officials said company negotiators warned repeatedly that without a deal, they would keep shrinking the airline until it's small enough to liquidate.

William Sprague, chairman of the union council, said pilots agreed to concessions during American's recent bankruptcy reorganization, but management then demanded "significant" new cuts.

The union's decision to reject the offer "was about the future of Eagle pilots and the regional airline pilot profession," Sprague said in a statement. "We will now begin the process of assisting our pilots in identifying alternative career options within the industry."

The company declined to comment immediately.

Eagle proposed that if pilots agreed to a new contract, the carrier would get 60 76-seat Embraer jets that were recently ordered by parent American Airlines Group Inc. Eagle's fleet consists mostly of 44- and 50-seat planes that have been falling out of favor at current high fuel prices.

American has tried unsuccessfully to sell Eagle in recent years, and it began outsourcing some of its regional flying to other companies such as SkyWest Inc. to reduce costs.

As of December, Eagle had about 12,600 full-time and part-time employees, compared to about 63,000 at American.

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