The National Mediation Board has ruled that American Airlines and US Airways are operating as a single carrier for the purposes of union representation.
The ruling comes in response to the Allied Pilots Association's January request for single carrier determination. It is the next step in combining the two pilots groups and negotiating a joint contract for the pilots.
The APA, which represents close to 10,000 pilots at American, is expected to be the labor representative for the pilots. The US Airline Pilots Association, which represents over 5,000 pilots from US Airways, argued against the determination.
"With respect to the pilots, USAPA notes that there are separate crew management computer systems in use and that many important terms and conditions of pilot employment remain separate with no established date for integration," the NMB ruling said. "It is well-settled, however, that the Board's criteria for substantial integration of operations do not require total integration of operations."
Federal rules give USAPA 30 days to file an application that shows 50 percent of the pilots want to be represented by USAPA which would lead to a representation election. However, APA has already submitted evidence to the NMB that it represents two-thirds of the combined pilot group.
"At the end of the 30-day period, the NMB will either certify APA as the bargaining agent for the pilots of American Airlines or call for an election between APA and no union," the APA said in a hotline message to pilots.
American Airlines spokesman Paul Flaningan said the ruling is the latest by the NMB involving the carriers' integration. The NMB has already ruled for single carrier status for passenger service workers and flight attendants.
"With today's ruling by the NMB, the momentum continues as we work to combine our two carriers," Flaningan said.