American Eagle Pilots Union Leaders Reject Deal

Rejection could jeopardize airline's future since the union has said company negotiaters stated numerous times that the regional carrier will be downsized until 'it is small enough to liquidate.'

Feb. 13--Leaders of the American Eagle pilots union on Wednesday rejected a recent contract agreement reached by negotiators for the airline and the Air Line Pilots Association, meaning it will not be sent to 3,000 Eagle pilots for a vote.

The contract rejection could jeopardize the future of American Eagle as the union said company negotiaters stated numerous times that the regional carrier will be downsized until "it is small enough to liquidate."

During a meeting at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport's Grand Hyatt hotel Wednesday, the union's master executive council voted against the 10-year deal, which would have given the regional carrier, owned by American Airlines Group, new Embraer 175 jets in return for concessions.

"The pilots negotiated and signed a concessionary agreement during the recent bankruptcy, and management asked us soon after AAG exited bankruptcy for additional, significant concessions," union Chairman William Sprague said in a memo sent to pilots Wednesday evening. "Our pilots decided they were not willing to work for less than the company is already paying our peers."

The union said it will help pilots find placement at other airlines and will ask management for the timetable for the possible liquidation of American Eagle.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines Group did not have an immediate comment. Its regional carrier is scheduled to be renamed Envoy this spring as the company moves forward with its strategy to use other third-party airlines to operate short-haul flights under the American Eagle brand.

In January, the union's negotiating committee and management reached an agreement guaranteeing that 60 of the new Embraer 175 aircraft that American Airlines Group ordered in December would be used with Eagle. In exchange for the aircraft, the pilots' pay scales would be frozen until 2018 and profit-sharing would be eliminated.

The deal included options for 90 other aircraft to be operated by the regional carrier. The company also agreed to hire more Eagle pilots at American Airlines' mainline operations, with up to 50 percent of each pilot hiring class consisting of Eagle pilots.

Although pilots would receive 1 percent pay increases starting in 2018, the captain pay scale would be capped at 12 years of service, and the first-officer pay scale capped at four years of service.

The employee contribution for medical insurance would also increase from 30 to 35 percent by 2017.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk

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