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Without a new contract, American Airlines flight attendants say they are preparing to potentially strike.

American Airlines’ flight attendants’ union said Thursday that it did not reach a new contract with management. The union added that the National Mediation Board is debating whether to release both parties into a 30-day cooling off period, which could set the stage for a strike. 

The union said all American flight attendants should prepare for a strike. American, however, took a much softer tone and said it expected negotiations to continue. 

“We made good progress in negotiations this week, adding even more to the industry leading proposal we’ve had on the table for months,” American said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing negotiations so our flight attendants can benefit from the contract they deserve. This agreement is within reach and we look forward to additional dates being scheduled.”

Negotiations between American and its flight attendants have been particularly contentious. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Labor Secretary Julie Su also joined for part of the talks over the past week. 

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents American flight attendants, opened “strike command centers” earlier this month. 

In the event that flight attendants did end up striking, it could become a major sore point for American, especially during a busy summer travel season. Some Wall Street analysts have also said it’s taken too long for American to reach an agreement with its flight attendants. United Airlines and Alaska Airlines are also in the middle of flight attendant contract negotiations. 

Even if the National Mediation Board releases flight attendants from negotiations and they enter a 30-day cooling off period, it could still take months for them to strike due to provisions in the Railway Labor Act. 

The NMB needs to grant the union permission to strike first, and last year, the board rejected the union’s request to be released from mediation. 

American flight attendants rejected a 17% immediate wage increases earlier this month, saying that they wanted a contract first. 

“APFA’s position has been Flight Attendants want and need a complete contract,” the union said at the time. 

Airlines Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date

What am I looking at? The performance of airline sector stocks within the ST200. The index includes companies publicly traded across global markets including network carriers, low-cost carriers, and other related companies.

The Skift Travel 200 (ST200) combines the financial performance of nearly 200 travel companies worth more than a trillion dollars into a single number. See more airlines sector financial performance

Read the full methodology behind the Skift Travel 200.

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Tags: alaska airlines, american airlines, flight attendants, robert isom, strikes, unions, united airlines

Photo credit: An American Airlines Airbus A319 lands in Santa Barbara. Glenn Beltz/Flickr Glenn Beltz / Flickr

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