AMR Pilots Look to US Airways Merger after Contract Approval (Update1)

(Updated with comment from APA President Keith Wilson.)

DALLAS ( TheStreet) -- On the second try, pilots at AMR ( AAMRQ.PK) voted overwhelmingly to approve a bankruptcy contract.

The contract includes pay raises and a 13.5% equity share in the airline when it emerges from bankruptcy. It also allows more regional jets at American and more domestic code-sharing with partners.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the contract was approved by a 74% margin. About 96% of the 8,000 pilots voted. The airline now has new labor deals approved by all nine of its unions.

In August, 61% of the pilots voted against the contract.

In a prepared statement, APA President Keith Wilson said "APA will now turn its focus to helping to ensure that full consideration is given to strategic alternatives before American Airlines' restructuring concludes. The APA leadership continues to support a merger with US Airways ( LCC) as the best path to a stronger, more competitive American Airlines that will in turn enhance our pilots' long-term career prospects."

At the same time, having an approved pilot contract makes it easier for creditors to evaluate the AMR plan to emerge independently from bankruptcy. It also provides a fallback for pilots if the widely expected merger doesn't occur.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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