United Airlines and the union representing its pilots have announced a landmark contract agreement that will significantly increase pilot pay over the next four years. The deal, valued at approximately $10 billion, comes after more than four years of intense negotiations characterized by picketing and strike discussions.
This agreement highlights the growing influence of labor groups, particularly pilots, as the airline industry experiences a robust recovery in travel and revenue. The Air Line Pilots Association has stated that this agreement, pending a ratification vote, will bring United pilots on par with their counterparts at Delta Air Lines. Delta pilots had previously approved a pay-raising deal earlier this year.
The union emphasized that the agreement includes substantial improvements in pay, retirement benefits, and job security for pilots. In terms of pay alone, this new contract appears to offer more favorable terms compared to the proposal rejected by United pilots last November.
Upon approval, pilots can expect immediate wage-rate increases ranging from 13.8% to 18.7%, depending on the aircraft they operate. Additionally, they will receive four smaller annual raises over the course of the contract, resulting in a total pay raise between 34.5% and 40.2%.
Garth Thompson, chair of the United pilots’ union, lauded this agreement as a truly historic achievement made possible by the unwavering determination of the airline’s 16,000 pilots.
Airlines and Pilots Reach Contract Agreement
American Airlines CEO, Scott Kirby, announced on LinkedIn that the company has reached an agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) regarding a new contract. The proposed offer, which will be voted on by American Airlines pilots starting July 24th, promises an average cumulative raise of 41.5% over four years.
Negotiations are still ongoing between Southwest Airlines and its pilots. Unlike American and Southwest, Delta and United have independent unions representing their pilots – both of which are represented by ALPA.
The timing of these negotiations is significant, as airlines received $54 billion in federal aid to support them during the pandemic. Now, with a resurgence in travel, these airlines find themselves in a favorable position. Passenger numbers in the U.S. have nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels.
This week, Delta announced an unprecedented quarterly profit of over $1.8 billion, along with record-breaking revenue during the April-through-June period – marking the beginning of the summer travel season. United is set to release their results on Wednesday, with analysts anticipating a profit surpassing $1.3 billion according to a FactSet survey.