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UPDATE 2-JetBlue pilots reject tentative agreement for American Airlines partnership

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Tracy Rucinski
·2 min read
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(Adds JetBlue comment)

By Tracy Rucinski

Feb 16 (Reuters) - JetBlue Airways Corp pilotsvoted to reject a tentative agreement that would have given theairline contractual relief to implement its planned partnershipwith American Airlines Group Inc,, their union said in astatement on Tuesday.

New York-based budget carrier JetBlue and internationalmajor American Airlines announced plans for a strategic tie-upin July to give them more muscle in the U.S. Northeast as theindustry plots its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

For any agreement to proceed, the Air Line PilotsAssociation (ALPA) representing JetBlue pilots said managementmust provide assurances over job safety.

"Job security, especially during turbulent points in ourindustry, is a main concern of every pilot,” Chris Kenney,chairman of the JetBlue unit of ALPA, said.

"We are disappointed in the results of the vote," a JetBluespokesman said, noting the company and ALPA had worked togetheron the tentative agreement.

"We are committed to our alliance with American Airlines andplan to move forward so we can deliver its benefits to bothcrewmembers and customers," he said.

The tentative agreement gave some relief from restrictionsin 2018 collective bargaining on the types of tie-ups JetBluecould undertake in exchange for an additional pay raise and someenhancement in job security, the union said.

American Airlines' management has told its pilots the dealwould comply with their clauses on scope, or the amount offlying that can be done by other carriers, but the union isconcerned about the impact it would have on jobs for domesticflights, a union spokesman said.

"We've never seen a code share at American that has led tomore mainline jobs," said Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the AlliedPilots Association representing American's pilots.

American has said the deal, which is currently under U.S.regulatory review, will help boost its international flyingoperations.(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Peter Cooney andCynthia Osterman)