The Democratic senator from Illinois comes to the White House with home-state ties to the industry. Chicago's O'Hare airport is the world's second-biggest by passengers and United Airlines, the third-largest U.S. carrier, is based in the city.

``We would expect an Obama administration would live up to its strong commitment to not only support, but strengthen, the collective bargaining right of workers,'' said Ed Wytkind, president of the AFL-CIO's transportation trades department.

After industry losses the Air Transport Association trade group projects at more than $5 billion this year, airlines may post a collective 2009 profit, thanks to fare increases and fuel prices that have tumbled about 50 percent since a July peak.

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