Pilots are represented by U.S. Airline Pilots Association at US Airways and Allied Pilots Association at American. Unlike the other unions, both pilot unions are limited to single airlines, and USAPA leaders already have publicly acknowledged that the union would likely disappear in a merger.

In talks regarding a new flight attendants contract at US Airways, both sides had expected to reach a tentative agreement in three days of talks that ended last Friday.

"We made a lot of progress (but) we just aren't quite there yet on a deal," said US Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr. In a message to members, AFA leaders wrote that "we were able to make progress" but could not reach a tentative agreement. The leaders said they will review options on how to proceed.

US Airways pilots, meanwhile, have said they back a merger but question some of the disadvantageous sections of the tentative contract agreement with American pilots, which would also apply to them.

"USAPA's position hasn't changed," said union spokesman James Ray. "In order to gain the support of its own pilots, US Airways has to address the issues that we've identified to them."

Said Mohr: "A merger between US Airways and American would create a new American that could compete with the new Delta ( DAL)and new United ( UAL) in a way that is compelling for consumers. That alone gives about 100,000 employees (at both US Airways and American) increased job security and stability."

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