Updated from 10:05 a.m. EDT

As bankruptcy fears swirl, the sudden resignation of US Airways ( UAIR) CEO David Siegel could improve the company's chances of winning critical wage cuts from pilots.

After two years at the helm of the nation's seventh-largest airline, Siegel announced his resignation at a board meeting late Monday, putting the company further under the control of David Bronner, US Airways' non-executive chairman and CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, which has a $300 million, or 37%, equity stake in the company. One of the pension fund's representatives to the board, Bruce Lakefield, former Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, will replace Siegel as CEO.

With the company pushing to gain another round of wage cuts from unions, analysts largely viewed the news as a positive for US Airways, telling investors the company was in a better position to wheedle concessions from unions despite Lakefield's inexperience in the airline industry.

Shares of US Airways were off 2 cents, or 0.6%, to $3.40, hitting a 52-week low of $3.31 shortly after the open of trading on Tuesday.

" Siegel had become a lightning rod for union criticism, and his departure will probably be cheered by much of the company's union leadership, and put them in more of a mood to be cooperative," said Jim Higgins, analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, in reaction to the news. We will just have to wait and see, however, how the company fares under a CEO we believe has limited airline experience."

Siegel's departure comes as the airline tries to stave off a second bankruptcy filing in as many years. Siegel had told employees the company needs to reduce labor costs by another 25% to be competitive, but after giving up their pension and billions of dollars in wage concessions, unions have balked at the request to cut their pay again. In December, pilots called for Siegel's resignation, while flight attendants sued the company for breach of contract.

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