FORT WORTH - U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Sean Lane agreed to postpone a ruling for one week on whether to void the labor contracts for American Airlines' three labor groups.
Judge Lane was originally supposed to rule Friday morning, but delayed his decision after a conference call late Thursday afternoon with American and representatives of its pilots union - the Allied Pilots Association (APA).
More than 7,000 union jobs are at stake and could be eliminated, if Judge Lane rules in the airline's favor.
But the pilots said they are close to a deal and could likely reach one with an extension by the court.
On Wednesday evening, the APA's Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly to reject American's final offer, because it was not specific enough about pilot scheduling.
But Judge Lane agreed not just to delay his decision for pilots, but also the flight attendants and TWU employee groups, giving them more time to talk with the airline.
"We're willing to sit down to resume good faith negotiations at any time," said Bruce Hicks, spokesman, American Airlines. "It's vital we close this chapter and move toward agreements that support a new American Airlines that can compete and win."
American said the extension does not mean the airline will continue to negotiate with its pilots.
"The offer is final and stands," Hicks added. "This delay is simply to give the APA more time to review the proposal. The APA Board will have to vote again on whether to put it out for a vote by its membership, but there will be no changes to the company's proposal."
The airline's chief pilot, John Hale, detailed American's offer to pilots in a letter Thursday evening. It includes "more pay, more predictability and more ownership in your company while still producing cost savings of 17 percent as compared to our initial target of 20 percent," he wrote.
After reducing the amount of cuts for pilots, American said it would also meet with the five TWU-represented work groups that recently agreed to a new contract with 20% cuts to make comparable improvements for them.
"We will also adjust the needed savings for our independent employees, in order to ensure they are treated fairly and equitably," Denise Lynn, Senior Vice President of People, said in her own letter to employees on Thursday evening.
Neither the Allied Pilots Association nor the Association of Professional Flight Attendants were immediately available to comment.