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Pilots Threaten to Strike

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RALEIGH — American Airline pilots are saying that unlessthe company is willing to talk, they are making plans to walk.

The pilots have worked for more than two years without a contract.Yesterday, they walked in an informal picket line at RDU InternationalAirport.

The local picket line is part of a national dispute. American Airlinesmanagement has agreed to meet in Dallas, Tex.,with its pilots' union toget preliminary issues out of the way before intensive talks begin nextweek.

Both sides say if agreement is not reached, a 60-day walkout couldoccur and it would cost the company $1 billion a month.

Pay is a key issue in the talks, but so is who can fly small jets. Atentative agreement, rejected last month, would have allowed a limitednumber of 50-passenger regional jets to be flown by commuter airlinepilots, who are represented by a different union.

American's pilots are worried, saying that smaller carriers pose athreat. They are demanding that the carrier drop all plans to allow itsAmerican Eagle unit to fly regional jets. Airline Pilots Associationmembers say they thought American would try to turn more of its short-haulroutes over to American Eagle, thereby threatening their jobs.

the pilots say if they don't have a new deal, they say they are readyto strike in 12 days.

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