(Reuters) - The new president of the American Airlines pilots' labor union, Keith Wilson, on Friday said he backs merging with a rival as the possible best path for the bankrupt air carrier.
Wilson, appointed by the Allied Pilots Association's board Thursday, in a letter to pilots Friday said "our union's strategic focus remains unchanged. APA is committed to pursuing consolidation as the best path for ensuring a brighter future for American Airlines and the pilots we represent."
David Bates resigned as APA president Wednesday after union members soundly rejected a tentative contract from the carrier. Wilson is a New York-based captain who ran against Bates for the top union post in 2010, but lost.
Bates had urged APA pilots to vote in favor of AMR's final offer, but about 60 percent of union members rejected the offer.
American's pilots have had no major pay gains for years after working under concessionary contracts and are now seeing their counterparts at rival U.S. carriers Delta Air Lines Inc and United Continental Holdings Inc obtain or move toward better contracts.
(Reporting By Joseph A. Giannone and Karen Jacobs; Editing by Bernard Orr)