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AMR CFO: We Have Momentum; Analyst: We Still Expect a Merger

Meanwhile, American is adding both new flight attendants and new aircraft. The carrier said Wednesday it will hire more than 1,500 new flight attendants during the next year, with hiring to begin in November and training to begin in January. American credited "the overwhelming response by current flight attendants to the company's recent voluntary separation options." About 2,250 flight attendants are leaving.

"This is a way for us to bring in a new work force and to help (remaining) senior flight attendants to quickly progress through the seniority list," enabling better schedules, Goren said. She noted that initially, however, new hiring will bring increased training costs, with training scheduled to begin in January.

Additionally, American is transforming its fleet. During the quarter, the carrier took delivery of seven Boeing 737-800s, bringing the year's delivery total to 19 aircraft, with nine more scheduled to be delivered in the fourth quarter. During the quarter, the number of 737s in the fleet will exceed the number of MD80s for the first time. Delivery of 59 new aircraft is scheduled for 2013. American expects to have the industry's youngest fleet by 2017.

On Tuesday, American creditors asked the bankruptcy court judge to extend the carrier's exclusivity period by a month to Jan. 28. "We believe it is largely a direct result of the pilots recently re-engaging with AMR management to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement," Wolfe Trahan analyst Hunter Keay wrote, in a report issued Tuesday. "This does not change our expectation that US Airways and AMR will announce a merger while AMR is in bankruptcy."

The next key date in the saga comes at the end of the month, when a non-disclosure agreement expires. During the two-month NDA term, the carriers have reviewed each others' financial information on a confidential basis. Various possibilities exist when the NDA ends: US Airways could launch a hostile bid, the two carriers could jointly proceed on a merger, the NDA could be extended, or US Ariways could walk away.
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