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Flight attendants approve American Airlines contract

By Barry Shlachter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram –

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines flight attendants have approved the bankrupt carrier’s “last, best and final” contract offer, with 59.5 percent voting in favor of the cost-saving terms, the union said Sunday.

But that doesn’t mean members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants have warmly embraced the carrier’s restructuring plan.

“We will now continue our strong and concise message that we have zero confidence in this management team,” said a writte statement from union President Laura Glading and other APFA leaders.

With the ratification, the airline’s pilots are the only union at American to have rejected contract terms and face the prospect of having their existing contract tossed out in bankruptcy court.

Despite voting for the new contract terms, which require bankruptcy court approval, the flight attendants say they will continue to back a proposed merger with US Airways. Its chief executive, Doug Parker, a former American employee, has negotiated tentative term sheets with American’s unions.

“We firmly believe that the only way for American Airlines to grow and compete and perhaps even to survive is through a merger that puts Doug Parker and his team in charge,” the APFA leaders said.

American saw the vote results as a victory.

“Ratification of the flight attendant agreement is an important step forward in our restructuring,” said airline spokesman Bruce Hicks. “We know this was not an easy decision for our flight attendants and we are very pleased with the choice they made.”

The holdouts, who are crucial players, are the pilots.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane sided with the Allied Pilots Association on Wednesday by denying a motion by AMR Corp., the airline’s parent company, to nullify the pilots’ contract. AMR on Friday filed a revised motion seeking to abrogate the contract, but will have to wait a few weeks for court approval to impose new cost-cutting measures on the 8,000 pilots, including changes to benefits and work rules.

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