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Pilots At American Eagle Reject Contract Offer

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File photo. [CBS] File photo. [CBS]
DALLAS -

Pilots at regional airline American Eagle have rejected a 10-year contract proposal that they say freezes their pay and cuts health-insurance benefits.

About 70-percent of the pilots voting turned down the offer, the Air Line Pilots Association said Friday.

"The Eagle pilots made a clear choice today, and it was not an easy one," said Capt. Bill Sprague, chairman of the Eagle ALPA Master Executive Council. 

"Despite threats from AAG management that they would seek other express carriers to conduct our flying, today's vote demonstrates that the demands for contract concessions were not acceptable. Today's vote clearly shows that pilots can, and will, vote against any agreement that is not in their best interests."

Eagle's parent company, American Airlines Group has threatened to farm out Eagle's planes to other regional carriers.

Regionals operate smaller planes that often fly on secondary routes and connect passengers to big hub airports that are served by so-called mainline airlines such as American, United and Delta.

In a news release from the Air Line Pilots Association, the union said the proposed contract changes were a combination of pay freezes, reductions in per diem, and increased health-care costs in exchange for a promise to refleet the airline and enhance the existing agreement to transfer pilots to American Airlines.

The release goes on to say these concessions were in addition to the $43 million the pilots gave the company during bankruptcy last year.

Regional airlines are reporting a shortage of pilots. The American Eagle pilots union says the airline need to raise pay to attract more pilots.

American Eagle Airlines says it plans to change its name to "Envoy" in April.

2/14/2014 Related Story: Tulsa's Spartan College, Airline Partner To Fill Pilot Gap

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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