American Airlines Weathers Turbulence

Stocks fall to lowest since 2003

Many shareholders of American Airlines' parent company are wondering what lies ahead for the airline.

Leaders of the pilots union said late Tuesday that the latest contract proposal doesn't meet their priorities, and stocks fell to the lowest price since 2003 on Wednesday.

The board of Fort Worth-based AMR Corp. had its final meeting of the year Wednesday.

Mike Davis, professor of business at Southern Methodist University, said avoiding bankruptcy was likely a topic of conversation. American is the only legacy airline to avoid bankruptcy and chances are, AMR is looking at ways to continue avoiding it.

American Airlines spokeswoman Missy Cousino said in a statement that the airline generally doesn't discuss board matters.

The Allied Pilots Association said in its letter to American that it is committed to reaching an agreement with the airline.

"The proposal was not acceptable at that level, and [we] are hoping the AMR board will raise the offer to cover some items and pay scales as well," said Howie Schack, of the APA.

He said pay and scope are two of the big sticking points. The pilots want to ensure their jobs would be intact if American were to ever decide to merge with another airline.

"We will resume negotiations with the APA and are awaiting a more detailed response on what we believe to be fair and reasonable proposals that are in the best interests of our pilots and the airline," Cousino said in her statement. "Achieving a competitive cost structure in order to capitalize on all the other building blocks we've put in place -- our network, products, services and technology and especially our fleet plan -- is our top priority, and we continue to work toward that goal."

Other unions, such as the Transportation Workers Union, agree with the APA that the future could look bleak if the negotiations go on longer.

"I do believe if they don't get a deal there is going to be some problems and tough decisions that will have to be made by the company," said Darrin Pierce, president of Local 513.

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