Airline unions likely to feel pinch of fuel costs

Skyrocketing oil prices may cause a "seismic shift" in the airline industry that could affect ongoing labor talks, a top union official said Thursday.

"Look, we're at $100 crude," said John Conley, air-transport division director at the Transport Workers Union, which represents ground workers at American Airlines as well as some employees at American Eagle, Southwest Airlines and other carriers. "I don't know that it bodes well for us being as successful [in negotiating new contracts] as we had once hoped."

Conley appeared on a panel at the International Aviation Symposium in Phoenix. Several industry insiders said that the price of fuel, which is the No. 1 cost for airlines, could devastate the industry.

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