DALLAS — Pilots at American Airlines (AA) have voted in favor of a new contract worth US$9.6 billion over a four-year term, following in the footsteps of Delta Air Lines (DL) as the second major U.S. carrier to finalize a new pilot agreement.
However, the deal faced some opposition from the Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents approximately 13,900 pilots at AA. Only 72.7% of crew members voted in favor of the contract, with the remaining pilots voting against it. Despite this, 95% of pilots participated in the vote.
One of the key concerns among pilots was the lack of additional scheduling flexibility provided in the deal.
According to Skift.com, although the contract will raise wages by 44% over its term, it is expected to boost them by 47% once a snap-up provision is implemented to match the rates offered by DL and United Airlines (UA). Under the new agreement, pilots at AA will experience an immediate pay increase of more than 21%. The contract also includes US$1.2 billion in retroactive pay and bonuses.
After years of negotiations, AA pilots reached an agreement in principle on a new contract last May. At the time, the APA stated that it would complete the contractual language before presenting the contract to its board for approval. The pilot union did not provide a contract value but stated that it encompassed pay and profit sharing that were competitive in the industry, as well as improved quality-of-life provisions.
The AA pilot contract also included scheduling improvements, which the union said were critical for pilots seeking a better work-life balance in a profession that frequently requires them to be away from their families for days at a time.
American CEO Robert Isom expressed his satisfaction with the ratification, calling it a “great day” for the airline and its pilots. He emphasized that the contract would enable the carrier to expand its training capacity, which had been a bottleneck for AA’s recovery from the pandemic in 2021 and 2022.
The ratification of this contract follows a previous tentative agreement between the APA and the airline, which was put on hold when UA reached its own tentative deal in July. After further negotiations between the airline and the union, AA agreed to match the wages offered by DL and UA.
Overall, while the approval of the new contract represents a significant milestone for AA and its pilots, the close vote and concerns about scheduling flexibility highlight the challenges faced by both parties in reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Featured image: ATP American Airlines Cadet Pilot Training