Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter
As a critical vote in the American Airlines bankruptcy saga comes to a close in the next 48 hours, the Allied Pilots Association held its final "tentative deal road show' in four cities including Grapevine.
The Allied Pilots Association will finish voting on a tentative agreement with American Airlines on Friday.
On Wednesday, APA held four "tentative agreement road shows" in St. Louis, Boston, the Washington, D.C., area and near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
A large number of pilots were in attendance at the Grapevine Convention Center. The APA is not commenting about the vote or contract until after voting concludes at noon CT on Friday, but NBC 5 was told that turnout at the road show was similar to numbers during the August tentative agreement vote.
The August vote ended with the pilots rejecting American Airlines' offer. But union leaders made this counter-offer to airline management and in recent weeks have encouraged members to approve the deal.
Union officials say the contract would put pilots on the path toward the industry standard contract that they desire.
While the APA would not comment, former pilot and aviation expert Denny Kelly said he believes the pilots will pass the deal and end the long stalemate.
"I think -- and I don't have any inside information; I don't think anybody does -- I think it will pass," he said. "I think they would be foolish not to pass it. And the contract is not that bad. I mean ... compared to their old contract and some things they use to have, yeah it's not that good to them. But you look as an outsider looking in, you see how much money they're making and the working conditions and this kind of thing; in today's economy, it's a pretty good contract."
American has said that while it could emerge from bankruptcy without a pilots contract in place, it doesn't want to do that.
The company hopes to emerge from bankruptcy in the first quarter of next year, although, last week, the airline and its creditors asked a judge to extend the time to form a reorganization plan by another six weeks.
Kelly said he thinks everyone involved is simply ready to move on.
"The union management, the American management, the majority of the pilot group, majority of the employees at American Airlines, I think they want this thing over," he said. "I think they want to get this contract signed. I think they want to get everything together, and I think they want to get out of bankruptcy if they can."