AA and unions agree to resume contract talks

DALLAS -- American Airlines and its pilots' union have agreed to resume stalled contract negotiations.

The union also said Tuesday that it will delay releasing results of a strike-authorization vote scheduled to end Wednesday.

The developments could lead to a breakthrough in a bitter standoff between the nation's third-biggest airline and its 7,500 active pilots.

Thomas Horton, CEO of American parent AMR Corp., which is operating under bankruptcy protection, said Tuesday he was pleased that "intensive bargaining" was scheduled to begin this week.

Horton said that AMR has finished most of its financial restructuring and is steadily returning to profitability. This despite "a very challenging couple of weeks for our company," he said.

Noting that American's other unions agreed to new contracts, he said a deal with pilots was an important step for the company.

In a message to Allied Pilots Association members, union spokesman Gregg Overman said the group would seek "an industry-standard contract."

The pilots rejected American's last offer in August. In early September, a federal bankruptcy judge gave AMR permission to throw out the pilots' contract and impose terms for pay, benefits and work rules.

Last week, American said some pilots were conducting an illegal work slowdown that was causing delayed and canceled flights, and it threatened to take the union to court. The union says there was no sickout or slowdown.