American Airlines pilots vote for potential strike while airline says negotiations are progressing

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Pilots talk as they look out the back of an American Airlines plane at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Mike Stone | reuters

American Airlines Pilots have voted overwhelmingly to allow their labor union to call off a strike while the carrier said talks for a new contract are nearing conclusion.

Pilot strikes are rare and would require permission from the federal National Arbitration Board. The vote does not mean that the decision to call for the strike will be made immediately.

The Allied Pilots Association said Monday that more than 96% of American pilots participated in the vote and 99% of them voted to allow the union to strike.

apa called the strike authorization vote Negotiations for a new deal dragged on in March. American Airlines CEO Robert Isom had said the airline was ready to raise pilot pay to match a rival Delta Airlineswhose pilots allowed A four-year deal with a 34% raise and other improvements earlier this year.

“Today is a proud milestone in the unity and resolve of our pilot group and an important step on our way to securing the contract we have earned and deserve – one that allows management to compete at a discount to our competitors. stops working and includes our ‘must have’ quality-of-life priorities,” Capt. Ed Sicher, president of the APA, wrote to the pilots on Monday.

A spokeswoman for American said the carrier believes a deal is “within reach” and that a “handful” of issues remain to be worked out.

“The finish line is in sight,” she said in a statement. “We understand that a strike authorization vote is one of the important ways pilots express their desire to make a deal and we respect the message of the vote’s results.”

Including higher 401(k) contributions at the end of a possible four-year deal at American, a captain flying narrow-body planes will earn $475,000 at the top of the scale, while the most senior captain of wide-body planes will earn $590,000. per annum, on the basis of a recent contract offer.

pilot contract negotiation it has become difficult across the industry, including the American, United Airlines And Southwest Airlines As pilots want not only an increase in pay but also quality of life improvements such as better, more predictable schedules as the pandemic improves travel demand.