American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall is not one to make the same mistake twice. In a bid to avert a confrontation with the pilots on the heels of a disastrous flight attendants' strike, Crandall and Allied Pilots Assn. President Richard LaVoy agreed on Jan. 18 to a proposal that would limit the negotiation period in coming contract talks--followed by mediation and binding arbitration if no agreement can be reached. It's an unusual and potentially risky move. Some question whether Crandall now will push an equity-for-concessions deal, such as that reached at United Airlines, since he is unlikely to allow such a change to be decided by an arbitrator. American says it hasn't ruled out such a deal.

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