Pilots vote to ratify agreement with American Airlines

Pilots approve new contract, could pave way for merger with US Airways

MIAMI - Pilots at American Airlines are approving a new labor contract, which could clear the way for consideration of a merger with US Airways.

The pilots' union announced the results Friday. Pilots rejected a similar offer in August, but union leaders lobbied hard for passage the second time around.

Under the contract, pilots will get pay raises and own 13.5 percent of American Airlines' parent AMR Corp. after it emerges from bankruptcy protection.

Union officials and analysts say the vote gives AMR creditors certainty about the company's labor costs, making it easier for them to weigh which gives them more money -- American on its own, or getting bigger through a merger with US Airways.

American Airlines Senior Vice President Denise Lynn issued a statement Friday, saying: "We are pleased our pilots supported and ratified this agreement, which is an important step forward in our restructuring. Once we've received Court approval of this agreement, we will have new collective bargaining agreements with all of our unionized groups.

"This agreement addresses the priorities identified by the APA during collaborative talks. Today's ratification gives us the certainty we need for American to successfully restructure, providing opportunity and growth for all of our people and stakeholders. The modernization of our company is well underway, and we remain focused on emerging as a competitive, world-class airline."

Fliers called it good news.

"Little more confident the flight will get there," said Bart Bell.

"It does make you feel better," said Carla Ivey.

"I'm happy to hear that. That's great," said Melissa Gilbert.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also issued a statement, saying: "As a critical community partner, we applaud American Airlines (AA) and its unions for working through difficult issues and finding common ground to reach a consensual agreement.  This will help secure the 9,000 AA jobs in the Miami area, which will benefit the 27 million AA passengers who fly in and out of Miami International Airport every year and infuse billions of dollars into our local economy."

Copyright 2012 by Post Newsweek. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.