Pilots at American Airlines will vote again on whether to approve a contract offer from the company, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection for nearly a year.
The Allied Pilots Association said Friday that its board voted 12-4 to accept a tentative agreement with American.
"Certainly they (the pilots) understand what's at stake," said APA spokesman Tom Hoban. "And what the pilots have told the leadership here at APA is, 'We want you to get us into industry standard as quickly as you possibly you can, and we think we've made a major move into that direction. This is at least a path to get us to industry standard.'"
The next step is for the pilots to vote on whether or not to ratify the agreement. The vote should happen on Dec. 7.
The two major changes in the contract have to do with an improvement in pay scale and the size and number of regional jets, pilots say.
"We've made some significant improvements," Hoban said.
The airline says it's happy to hear the pilots will soon vote.
“We are pleased the Allied Pilots Association is putting the tentative agreement out for a vote," American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks said. "We worked hard in concert with the APA’s negotiating committee to structure an agreement that addresses the priorities identified by APA as most important to our pilots, while staying within the same cost savings target that we required from all other employee groups. We are confident our pilots will carefully consider the terms of the agreement as they cast their votes over the next few weeks."
The 7,500 pilots rejected a previous company offer in August, and American responded by getting federal bankruptcy court approval to impose pay and benefit cuts. However, American said it wants to reach a consensual deal with its pilots, especially as it prepares to emerge from bankruptcy.
"We wanted to conclude this with the pilots," Hicks said. "It's much better to have that than not, because it gives us certainty."
Hicks said the certainty is with the contract length, its costs and benefits.
It's important for the pilots to reach a deal when the company emerges from bankruptcy because, if they have a deal, they will have a seat at the table.
"What ratification with this contract would mean -- we would become a majority stakeholder in this process," Hoban said. "And that allows us to help select the AMR Board of Directors and the future leaders at American Airlines. It makes us the largest stakeholder in this bankruptcy process. That prevents us from being sidelined, and that's very important."
When the APA board approved the August contract that pilots rejected, it voted 9-7 to send it to members. The board's vote on the current proposal was 12-4, which Hoban said is a better split.