Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
A pilots' union says it could reach a deal with American Airlines on a new contract that would include an ownership stake in the company. But the Allied Pilots Association says there's still no agreement on several key points. Pilots voted in August to reject what Fort Worth-based American Airlines termed its best and final offer.
American Airlines and its pilots could finally reach a contract agreement this week after working without one for six years.
Despite progress in negotiations, pilots said they are still frustrated. They picketed at Terminal D at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Wednesday. Pilots said they were trying to rally support for a fair contract and said they hoped the protest would help seal a deal.
Union negotiators are close to reaching an agreement with the company but said it's not a done deal just yet.
"We've got two significant outstanding issues -- pay and the language in the contract that allows the corporation to continue outsourcing pilot jobs," Allied Pilots Association spokesman Tom Hoban said.
Hoban said that until American Airlines compromises on the pilots' two sticking points, board members would not have a tentative offer on the table to even consider.
"It's fundamentally up to the corporation," he said. "If it meets the industry standard out there -- I mean Delta and United -- I think we've got an agreement in principal that's possible."
As negotiations continued behind closed doors, pilots made a very public statement during Wednesday's demonstration.
"You've got hundreds of pilots that are angry and frustrated, and they're expressing that fact to our senior executives," Hoban said. "Right now, we want a contract. We want a contract that reflects the sacrifices that our pilots have made."
Budget slashing began in September after a judge agreed to toss out the pilots' contracts as part of the company's bankruptcy filing.
American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks said the airline held off on some of the cost-cutting measures to improve relations during negotiations.
"Our focus remains on getting a consensual agreement that provides opportunity and security for our pilots and assures American Airlines a successful restructuring," he said. "We're very pleased with how far we've come and the status of negotiations thus far, but we're not quite there yet. But we hope to conclude them successfully in the very near future."
In an earlier statement to NBC 5, Hicks said: "Negotiations continue as we try to reach a consensual agreement that provides growth opportunity and security for our pilots and allows American Airlines to successfully restructure. Denise Lynn last week said that good progress has been made and we are approaching a deal that we hope the APA Board of Directors will soon agree to put out for a ratification vote."
Pilots said they believe there's more work to be done in negotiations.
"I'd say we've got a ways to go," Hoban said.
The union board began meeting Wednesday afternoon. The special session is scheduled to run through Friday.