Local News

Pilots Threaten to Strike

Posted February 4, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— American Airline pilots are saying that unless the 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 International Airport.

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

Both sides say if agreement is not reached, a 60-day walkout could occur 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. A tentative agreement, rejected last month, would have allowed a limited number of 50-passenger regional jets to be flown by commuter airline pilots, who are represented by a different union.

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

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