DALLAS — Spirit Airlines (NK) pilots have voted on a new two-year union contract that will increase pay by US$463. The agreement is retroactively in effect as of January 1, 2023.
Spirit’s Pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). Of the 2,326 eligible Pilots who voted, 69% were in favor of the new agreement.
While Captains will receive a cumulative pay increase of 25% over the two-year period, First Officers will receive a 43% increase, the union reports. This represents an average increase of 34% collectively.
It is worth noting that the new contract is eligible for renegotiation if NK’s current acquisition deal with fellow low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways (B6) falls through.
Comments on the New Agreement
John Bendoraitis, the carrier’s executive vice president, stated, “We truly value our incredible pilots, and we’re proud to recognize their contributions, passion, and professionalism as they keep us flying every day.”
The deal “not only offers the financial gains our pilots need today, but also creates a stronger bargaining position for Spirit Airlines’ pilots at our next step, either in the merger process with JetBlue or in comprehensive negotiations with Spirit Airlines as a stand-alone carrier,” says Ryan Muller, chair of the airline union’s executive council.
Industry Recovery vs Pilot Benefits
As air travel demand approached pre-pandemic levels and remote work became more prevalent, airlines began to report positive financial results in 2022. With profits rising and labor shortages still looming, pilots have gained more leverage, which increases their chances of securing higher wages and better scheduling, among other improvements.
With regional carriers increasing salaries, carriers such as NK face the risk of losing Pilots to competing carriers. Salary negotiations were imperative.
Again, although the agreement is retroactive to January 1, 2023, uncertainty looms as the pilots could reenter Section 6 renegotiations with the airline’s management team if the acquisition fails.
Spirit states on its career website that its “rewards and perks reflect how much we value our team at Spirit, including NEW pilot pay rates!” Do you think this is a good time to be on the flight deck? Be sure to leave your comments on our social media channels.
Featured image: Spirit Airlines N616NK Airbus A320. Photo: Mateo Skinner/Airways