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American Airlines CEO will speak to pilots' union

DALLAS (AP) -- The American Airlines pilots' union says company CEO Thomas Horton on Thursday will speak to the group's directors, who favor a merger with US Airways.

Keith Wilson, president of the Allied Pilots Association, said Horton is scheduled to talk about the airline's bankruptcy restructuring "and his view of the future."

American's three unions favor a merger that would turn over management of the company to US Airways executives. Horton hasn't ruled out a merger but has hinted that he might favor American emerging from bankruptcy protection on its own.

Last week pilots ratified a new contract that gives them 13.5 percent ownership of American's parent, AMR Corp., after it emerges from bankruptcy. This week, creditors invited the pilots' union to join talks between AMR and US Airways Group Inc. on a potential merger.

"As the new owners of a significant percentage of the restructured airline, it's APA's responsibility to maximize the value of our investment by conducting thorough due diligence," Wilson said in a memo to members Wednesday. "I believe the APA leadership needs to hear what Mr. Horton has to say."

American did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The union said it's the first meeting between its board and Horton since he became CEO on the eve of the airline's bankruptcy filing in November 2011.

Many analysts expect American and US Airways to merge, and so do some executives at other airlines. Speaking to an investor conference on Wednesday, Delta Air Lines Inc. CEO Richard Anderson said he expects a merger shortly that will leave just four major U.S. airlines.

Anderson, whose company bought Northwest Airlines in 2008, said that as the recent United-Continental and Southwest-AirTran combinations gain more traction — and if joined by an American-US Airways merger — there will be a "a more rational, more stable and more durable industry landscape, which is going to be good for all of us including Delta."

Consumer advocates worry that airline mergers are reducing competition and leading to higher fares.