Head of pilots' union says latest delay in American Airlines bankruptcy helps takeover chances

Associated Press

DALLAS - The head of the pilots' union says the latest delay in American Airlines' bankruptcy case increases the chances that the company will be taken over, presumably by US Airways.

And Keith Wilson says the union's advisers believe that US Airways will pursue a merger, even if American's management opposes a deal.

Wilson is president of the Allied Pilots Association, which favours a merger that would have US Airways management run the combined company. Wilson made the comments Monday night in a message to American's pilots.

American parent AMR Corp. asked for another month of exclusive rights to present a turnaround plan in federal bankruptcy court. Wilson says creditors may have pushed the delay to give merger talks more time. A committee representing AMR's unsecured creditors supported the extra time.

Both airlines declined to comment. AMR and US Airways Group Inc. agreed several weeks ago to exchange confidential financial information.

American and the pilots' union are negotiating over a new contract that would replace pay and working terms that American imposed in September. The union says the sides have made progress. Talks resumed last month after American threatened to haul the union into court over what the company considers an illegal work slowdown by pilots.

Delays and cancellations soared at American during September, and the airline's on-time performance is still poor. On Monday only 58 per cent of its flights arrived on time, compared with 67 per cent at United Airlines, 72 per cent at Southwest Airlines, 88 per cent at Delta Air Lines, and 90 per cent at US Airways, according to FlightStats.com. American cancelled just one flight on Tuesday.

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