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DALLAS (AP) — An airlines industry analyst says the vote by American Airlines pilots to reject the carrier's last contract offer could make a tie-up between American and US Airways more likely.
Analyst Hunter Keay of Wolfe Trahan & Co. said Friday that pilots could draw out contract negotiations with American, raising uncertainty about American's plan to restructure under bankruptcy protection and emerge as a stand-alone company.
The Allied Pilots Association supports a potential merger, but union leaders had narrowly endorsed a contract offer that would have given pilots a 13.5 percent stake in parent AMR Corp. after it emerges from Chapter 11. Rank-and-file pilots, however, rejected the offer by 61-to-39 percent in results announced Thursday.
A federal bankruptcy judge in New York is scheduled to rule Wednesday on American's request to throw out the union's current contract and temporarily impose less-generous terms on the pilots.
Keay said pilots "will soon have little left to lose" and could drag out negotiations on a longer-term contract.
An impasse with the pilots could create doubt about AMR's stand-alone restructuring plan and make US Airways' merger proposal more attractive to AMR's creditors, Keay said.
AMR issued a statement saying that it was reviewing a range of strategic alternatives and would "compare them with our own strong plan." The company, which has sent confidentiality agreements to several airlines that might be interested in discussing a merger, including US Airways, declined further comment.