American Airlines and its pilots union have agreed to continue contract negotiations through mid-December.
The two sides, which had already passed a Nov. 15 deadline for talks to be formally extended, said they hope to reach a deal outside of a binding arbitration process set to begin in January. The Allied Pilots Association is representing pilots at both American and the former US Airways and is working with management to reach a joint contract to cover both work groups.
“We’ve made progress and both American and APA are continuing to work toward a deal outside of arbitration,” company spokesman Paul Flaningan said late Friday.
The APA said its president and vice president met with American management on Friday morning to discuss the ongoing talks, and negotiators from both sides met that afternoon.
“[Friday] afternoon’s discussion focused on the steps required to resolve key issues, with the aim of concluding negotiations and producing final contractual language for the APA board of directors to review by mid-December,” the union told its members in a hotline message.
If the union board approves the final contract language, it could send a tentative agreement out for a ratification vote prior to the arbitration process beginning.
Earlier this month, the company had offered immediate 18 percent pay increases to pilots but asked to change some scope rules for regional jets.
The pilots union countered with a proposal with pay increases up to 26 percent with no changes in the regional jet scope section of the contract.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed by American, US Airways and the pilots unions at both carriers before the merger, pilots received an additional $522 million over six years on top of the base contract that the APA negotiated with American during bankruptcy.
The extra money, which can be in the form of pension, pay or per diem rates, translates to about $87 million a year.
In arbitration, the contract value is capped at the amount specified in the memorandum.