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American Airlines says it has a deal with the pilots’ union

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FORT WORTH, Texas >> American Airlines has reached a tentative labor agreement with pilots who recently raised the possibility of a strike against the nation’s biggest airline if they were unable to get a new contract with higher pay.

American said Friday that the four-year deal, if ratified by pilots, would give them pay and profit-sharing “that match the top of the industry.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Earlier this year, Delta Air Lines pilots ratified a contract that will boost their pay 34% over four years, but American pilots said they needed more to catch up with Delta, which has a richer profit-sharing program.

American CEO Robert Isom said in March that the airline was ready to give pilots 40% more in pay and retirement contributions. Isom said that would boost top pay and benefits for a captain of single-aisle planes like the Boeing 737 to $475,000 a year in salary and retirement benefits, and $590,000 for pilots of bigger planes such as Boeing 777s and 787s.

United and Southwest are in negotiations with their pilots, who are seeking to match or improve on the Delta deal.

Pilots believe that a shortage affecting some carriers has given them more leverage at the bargaining table. They are seeking higher pay and improvements in scheduling.

American pilots recently voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, although federal law makes it difficult for airline workers to strike.

American spokeswoman Sarah Jantz said Friday that the airline was pleased to reach an “agreement in principle” with better pay, profit-sharing and improved quality-of-life provisions. “They deserve to be paid well and competitively,” she said.

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