ATLANTA (TheStreet) -- Veteran Delta (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report pilot Lee Moak's election to head the Air Line Pilots Association could benefit airline stocks, according to an analyst report.
Moak, a captain at Delta, will take office on Jan. 1 as president of the largest union representing airline pilots. ALPA has nearly 53,000 members at 38 airlines.
"Captain Moak's election represents yet another shift away from confrontational-style negotiating from airline organized labor," wrote Stifel Nicolaus analyst Hunter Keay, in a report late Thursday. "In our view, this is a generally positive development for airline stocks, as investors tend to shy away from airlines with poor labor relations."
Delta pilot/labor leader Lee Moak
"I believe you need to engage with everyone who has an impact on the pilot profession and the airline profession," Moak said
"That includes management, all levels of government, Wall Street and others.
"You have to dialogue with them and you have to take a common sense approach," he said. "That is what has always worked at Delta and I believe it can work at a national level."
Keay said Moak predecessor John Prater generally took a more confrontational approach, as evidenced by his recommendation that pilots at
reject binding arbitration in favor of a strike, which lasted for seven days in June. Keay noted, however, that after campaigning on a platform of seeking restoration for contract concessions made in bankruptcy, Prater "gradually shifted to a more cooperative approach" during his four year term.
"We do not expect Captain Moak to acquiesce to airline management demands, but we do expect less media-focused rhetoric and more behind-the-scenes negotiating," Keay wrote. "We believe investors perceive Delta as having the best labor relations among network carriers ... mainly due to Captain Moak's leadership."
Keay said Moak's election continues a trend that also has affected
, where pilots are represented by the Allied Pilots Association. In June, Dave Bates was elected APA president, replacing Lloyd Hill.
Keay said Hill's term in office involved "years of aggressive bargaining tactics that included no communication with the AMR CEO and little progress towards a new contract." Keay has a buy on American, saying he expects a contract agreement within a year.
for their ALPA chapter late in 2009.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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