Eastern Airlines Friday sued its pilots and machinists unions for $1.5 billion, accusing them of trying to destroy the financially embattled carrier so they can buy it at a "bargain basement price."

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Miami by Eastern and its parent, Texas Air Corp., accuses the Air Line Pilots Association and the International Association of Machinists with racketeering, extortion, fraud and defamation.The suit's accusations against the unions include charges they conducted a public "smearing" of the carrier's reputation, staged illegal work slowdowns and tried to undermine worker loyalty, Eastern said in a press statement.