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American to hold new round of talks with unions

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines plans to start contract talks this week with its unions while it waits for a federal bankruptcy judge to decide whether the company can impose its own terms on workers.

Thomas Horton, the CEO of American Airlines parent AMR Corp., said Wednesday that the talks will be mediated by another bankruptcy judge.

This month, American negotiated concessions from five groups representing nearly 11,000 of its 73,000 workers.

But it is in a standoff with pilots, flight attendants and mechanics. Horton said the impasse "has created uncertainty all around."

American and AMR filed for bankruptcy protection in November. AMR has been reworking aircraft leases and just finished a three-week trial in which it tried to persuade U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane to let it break its existing union contracts.

AMR says that to survive it must cut jobs and reduce benefits and work rules in union contracts as part of a plan to save $1.25 billion a year in labor costs. The unions say the proposed cuts are more than AMR needs to become profitable. The judge plans to rule by June 22.

American's unions have thrown their support behind a potential takeover bid from US Airways, which has promised the unions easier terms than American had proposed.

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