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American, Pilots Union Reach Tentative Accord

May 16, 1997|From WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON — American Airlines Inc. and the Air Line Pilots Assn. announced Thursday that they have tentatively agreed to a 16-year labor contract that guarantees that pilots for the carrier's American Eagle commuter subsidiary will remain among the best paid in the commuter industry, while clearing the way for American to purchase new regional jets.

The announcement comes as most other major airlines are trying to negotiate agreements with their pilots that would allow commuter subsidiaries to fly the regional jets that are now entering the market. The agreement reached Thursday gives Dallas-based American, the nation's second-largest carrier, a head start over many of its competitors in the race to begin jet service on commuter lines.

The unusually long-term contract also gives Eagle pilots the right, for the first time, to move into job openings in American's larger jet fleet as the parent company expands, effectively turning the commuter line into a farm club for American pilots. Continental Airlines is the only major carrier to have such an arrangement with its commuter operation.

The union's leadership will vote on the contract May 28 and, if approved, send it to the membership for ratification.

Details of the new American Eagle contract were not available, but the company and the union said it combines existing agreements at American's four wholly owned Eagle subsidiaries.

These agreements provide the pilots with a single seniority list for determining who is able to move up to the main airline when opportunities arise.

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