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Report: American Airlines Wins Key Decision Over Pilots Union

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A bankruptcy judge's decision means American Airlines can toss aside the contract with its' pilots union.
The airline says the decision by Judge Sean Lane will clear the way for the company to more quickly restructure its' debt, cut costs and emerge from bankruptcy.

But American's pilots say they want fair pay -- similar to what pilots at other major carriers earn.

"It's up to the company to come to the pilots and recognize the sacrifices we've already made," said Captain Scott Iovine. "The pilots feel like they've had enough and they want a successful airline to work for and a successful management and a successful relationship with management that will make everybody happy."

Captains Kevin Mase says the judge's ruling is bad for business. Mase also said pilots gave up 23 percent of their salary in 2003 and have made other concessions since.

"At this point I think the pilots of American don't have a lot of faith in the business plan going forward," Mase said.

But American Airlines says this is about survival.

In a statement from Spokesperson Bruce Hicks, he said "We appreciate Judge Lane's thoughtful consideration of our renewed Section 1113 motion regarding the pilot contract. But, there is no sense of accomplishment in this outcome. We worked very hard to reach a consensual deal with our pilots, just as we did with each represented employee group. However, the pilots rejected the tentative agreement on August 8, so it is time to move forward. Judge Lane's ruling is very important because it will allow us to implement the changes that are necessary for our successful restructuring. We will be sharing the implementation plan with the APA, and will communicate details of the plan to pilots in the coming days. Our goal remains to reach a consensual agreement with our pilots, and we are resolute in our efforts to put American Airlines in a position to win and create new opportunities and a brighter future for our people."

Several of American's passengers say they understand the company's problems but believe pilots should be protected.

"They should be treated fairly," said Matt Beer, who primarily flies American. "They do a very important job for everybody -- making sure everybody gets where they need to go safe."

Captains Iovine and Mase said all options are on the table at this point -- negotiations with American as well as a possible strike.

There have also been reports that American Airlines is considering a merger with another airline.

But Iovine said this is critical time in the history of American Airlines.

"We want to be a growing airline and in order to do that we can't be accepting substandard contracts," Iovine said. "American Airlines has a chance right now to repair a relationship and make a successful airline and if they don't choose that path it's not going to go well for any of us."

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