American Airlines moves to void union contracts

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on March 27, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 28 at 2:17 AM

FORT WORTH — American Airlines said its exit from bankruptcy depends on its unions.

With little progress at the bargaining table since February 1, the airline said it now needs to speed up negotiations, so it is asking a judge to void its labor contracts.

"We are seven weeks out now, and we must move forward," said American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks. "This will help that process move along, because if we can't reach consensual agreements, we have this process as well."

In court papers filed Tuesday, American said it has lost $10 billion since 2001.

It cut food and beverage service, travel agency commissions, booking fees and started a fuel savings program to trim $2 billion of expenses each year.

The unions made $4 billion in concessions in 2003, but it wasn't enough.

The airline said its labor costs remain 24 percent higher than Delta, United and US Airways, all of which earlier restructured through bankruptcy.

Flight attendants, transport workers and pilots vow to fight for 13,000 jobs in court.

"Management is over-reaching," said Allied Pilots Association spokesman Tom Hoban. "This process is designed to level the playing field — and they want to bury us under the playing field."

American said it has every intention of reaching consensual agreements before the judge makes a ruling. It told the court the carrier will not survive bankruptcy if it does not have labor contracts in place soon.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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