Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
There's growing speculation that a merger plan for bankrupt American Airlines and US Airways could be agreed upon soon, but not all pilots agree with the plan that the Allied Pilots Association is pushing.
New pilot opposition has surfaced to a proposed merger of bankrupt American Airlines and US Airways that the pilots' union leaders strongly support.
A blog that claims to represent a wide range of American Airlines pilots accuses union leaders of a "rush to judgment" and "merger mania."
The blog claims the merger could be bad for employees.
Closed-door merger talks are underway now between Allied Pilot Association leaders, other bankruptcy creditors and leaders of both American and US Airways.
"We supported a merger with US Airways while inside bankruptcy," APA spokesman Tom Hoban said. "We believe that's a remedy for American's systemic network and revenue problems and would potentially bring in a new management team with new vision," he said.
The new team would be US Airways executive under the proposals they've made public in the past.
American CEO Tom Horton has said in the past that the company prefers to exit bankruptcy as a standalone company but that all options are being considered.
Aviation attorney Kent Krause said American might have an easier time completing a merger if it is done while a bankruptcy court judge is still in control of the details.
"But certainly the fact that the pilots are meeting with US Airways doesn't bode well that it's going to be a smooth departure from bankruptcy for American unless American's management also gets on board with what US Airways and the pilots are thinking," he said.
Krause said the new pilot opposition suggests there is division in the ranks about a merger.
"I think there's a little discord there that's going to start to bubble up in the end and you'll see that," Krause said.
Hoban said the blog represents a small fraction of APA members.
Wednesday the bankruptcy judge agreed to a company request to eliminate future lump-sum pilot pension payments.
Hoban said the APA did not oppose it.
"The reality is, had the lump sum been preserved, we would have seen a run on retirement plan, and we would have likely seen the plan terminated, and I don't think anybody wants to see that," Hoban said.
Meetings scheduled for the bankruptcy case in January suggest a decision on a possible merger would come soon.