American Airlines pleaded with federal mediators to allow the company to continue negotiations with two of its largest unions, arguing the airline remains in “fragile” financial shape and that its employees are among the best paid in the industry.
Unions representing flight attendants and ground workers have asked the National Mediation Board to declare the bargaining at an impasse -- the first step to a potential strike.
In letters to the board dated April 1, the airline said, “The parties have made steady progress,” and that more progress is possible.
“American Airlines remains a fragile company,” the letters said. “American has lost $10 billion in the last 10 years, and based on analysts’ industry projections, is likely to have another significant loss in 2010.”
The unions question why executives have given themselves big bonuses if the airline is in such a poor financial position and accuse the company of bargaining in bad faith by dragging on negotiations as long as possible.
The flight attendants union said the airline saves $1 million per day as long as the talks continue.
The airline posted the two letters to the National Mediation Board on its Web site Friday. They are nearly identical, even though they involve separate negotiations with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transport Workers Union of America.
The airline said its employees receive better pay and benefits than their colleagues in the industry “in almost every case" -- claims the unions reject.
The unions have said they want to recoup at least some of the large wage and benefit concessions made to save the airline from bankruptcy in 2003.
It is not clear when the board will rule whether or not to declare an impasse.