FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- The CEO at the parent of American Airlines parent said that the airline has made "much progress" in rebuilding itself under bankruptcy protection and suggested that the company would continue to explore its strategic options.
Thomas Horton, the president of AMR Corp., made the comments in a letter to employees Monday, a day after flight attendants ratified a contract that includes concessions but also buyouts designed to avoid about 2,000 layoffs.
AMR has used powers in the bankruptcy process to wring concessions from unions representing more than 40,000 flight attendants and ground workers.
The lone holdout is the Allied Pilots Association, whose 8,000 active employees rejected a concessionary contract. American seeks to throw out the pilots' contract and impose terms that would make even deeper cuts in spending. Horton said American would continue to negotiate with the pilots' union while also using the court process to cut pilot costs.
"The process of achieving competitive labor costs has been challenging, as we knew it would be," Horton wrote.
The president of the Transport Workers Union, James C. Little, said union acceptance of concessionary contracts "doesn't end the battle for fair wages and fair treatment at AMR." He said his union would explore "all reorganization options, including merger," to get a better deal for employees.
The president of the flight attendants' union said her group would focus on making a merger with US Airways happen.
AMR has begun evaluating merger options with several airlines and is expected to announce its preference — which could be staying independent — this fall. Only US Airways Group Inc. has publicly expressed interest in AMR, but the two management groups are likely to clash over who would run a combined company.