AMR lost more than $10 billion in the decade leading up to its Chapter 11 filing, and the losses keep piling up — another $1.7 billion in the first three months of 2012, most of it for restructuring expenses. Other major U.S. airlines, however, have returned to profitability by raising fares, imposing more fees on passengers, and by cutting labor costs.
"We're going through a major restructuring of labor relations in the airline industry," said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Massachusetts.
The unions, which forced American to capitulate on wages in the 1990s, have lost much of their clout. Even if they agree to concessions now, Chaison said, they'll probably be asked to give up more in a few years as the airlines keep cutting costs.
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Mayerowitz reported from New York, Koenig from Dallas.
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