DALLAS (AP) -- Leaders of the three labor unions at American Airlines made a public appeal Thursday for company directors to start talking to US Airways immediately about a merger.
The union leaders said a merger would create a bigger airline that could compete better with industry leaders United and Delta. It would also remain based in American's hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, they said.
The unions planned to take out advertisements with the letter in Friday editions of The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The unions' support for a merger is no secret. They announced two weeks ago that they had agreed to tentative labor contracts that would take effect in case US Airways merges with American, which is currently in bankruptcy protection. The unions hope that a merger would reduce the need for thousands of job cuts and other reductions that American proposes to save money.
Thomas Horton, the chairman and CEO of American Airlines parent AMR Corp., has ruled out merger discussions until the company emerges from its bankruptcy reorganization.
Horton has said that any decision on a merger is up to AMR's board, management and creditors.
"Nothing changes as a result of these latest statements from our unions," American spokesman Bruce Hicks said Thursday night. "We will proceed on our path toward a successful restructuring of American, including continuing through the court-supervised" process of reducing costs by rejecting current labor contracts.
The open letter to the AMR board came from presidents of the Allied Pilots Association, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transport Workers Union. The groups represent nearly 55,000 of American's 73,000 employees.
They are fighting American's request in U.S. bankruptcy court to throw out their labor contracts and impose the company's terms for pay, benefits and work rules.
Fort Worth-based American is the nation's third-biggest airline, and Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways is the fifth-largest.