NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Pilots at American Airlines ( AAL) subsidiary Envoy Air face a difficult contract vote, one that has sucked them into the vortex of the transition of the regional airline industry.

It has become an industry where cost, particularly pilot cost, is the primary focus. At Envoy, formerly American Eagle, the transition has been rapid, so rapid that nine days after American emerged from bankruptcy in November 2013 with $40 million in concessions from Envoy pilots, American's new management proposed a more concessionary contract and then began to scuttle airplanes until it could get a deal it wanted.

Must Read:  At American Airlines, the Arbitration Nobody Wanted Has Ended

This is why executives from American, Envoy, the Air Line Pilots Association and the Envoy ALPA chapter gathered over the weekend of Dec. 6 at ALPA's Massachusetts Avenue headquarters, and then at a nearby hotel.

They talked from Saturday morning into Sunday afternoon. Pilots then conducted their own discussions before agreeing to send a tentative contract agreement out for a vote.

Votes will be counted Dec. 23.

"One thing that helped make this deal come together is that over the past year, we've had new management and new MEC leadership," said Sam Pool, who took over as chairman of the Envoy ALPA chapter in October. "We've been working together, getting to know one another. The new American Airlines Group is not the same as old AMR. We are learning that promises are kept and a deal is a deal -- that is something that was lacking not only last year but also in the last decade.

"Envoy pilots have been through a lot -- divestiture {discussed but not implemented}, bankruptcy, a hostile takeover in bankruptcy," Pool said. "We had an emotional response before because we were coming out of bankruptcy.

"What had to happen was that there had to be some sense of ownership by the company," he said. "The pilots needed to have confidence that this deal would move them forward and move the company forward."

ALPA President Lee Moak also said that consideration of the history was an important step in getting a tentative deal. Moak was deeply involved in what may have been the last major task during his term as one of ALPA's most influential presidents. He will leave office Dec. 31.

"When I came in they had just changed presidents at Eagle," Moak recalled. "We were talking with Eagle about negotiations to spin it off. They started that, then stopped, and AMR went into bankruptcy. They went through a hostile takeover and they took their eyes off Eagle and then they exited bankruptcy."

Must Read: How Lee Moak Changed the Airline Industry

New management "started to look at Eagle with the idea that they would not divest it but would make it a viable, sustainable enterprise," he said. "For ALPA, we've been trying to do what the pilots want us to do, but it's been very difficult to negotiate when the narrative and the facts continue to change.

"In this latest attempt, the pilots came and took a good hard look from an economic viewpoint, not an emotional viewpoint, and over a 48-hour period we were able to get a tentative agreement. We went back and forth on some important issues and ultimately we were able to compromise."

An American spokeswoman declined to comment for this story.

In March, Envoy pilots rejected a tentative agreement. Since then, Envoy has moved industriously to shed aircraft, saying it cannot afford to fly them at contract rates or it does not have enough pilots to fly them.

Pool said the main changes since that rejection were to bring forward some financial benefits, primarily a $12,500 signing bonus with captains receiving theirs upon approval, and first officers getting $7,500 upon approval plus an additional $5,000 at a future date. These payments are funded by elimination of bargaining "credits" that were agreed to in bankruptcy negotiations and which were set to come due in 2016.

Also, increases in the share of health care costs to 35% from 30% would be delayed and implemented more gradually. Four weeks becomes the maximum vacation time, down from five weeks. "We accelerated some positive financial results for the group and delayed some of the negative," Pool said.

On Monday, shortly after discussing the new contract with New York pilots, Pool declared: "One thing this (master executive council) prides itself on is being responsive to pilots. They wanted us to interact with the company, they wanted a path forward; they wanted a win-win deal. And now I think we are getting some positive feedback."

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

To contact this writer, click here.

Follow @tedreednc

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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