DALLAS — On Saturday, Chicago-based United Airlines (UA), one of the largest carriers in the world, reached a labor agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) that includes an up to 40% pay raise and increased life and travel benefits over a period of four years.
Due to the industry’s pilot shortage and increased travel demand despite high inflation, UA’s 16,000 pilots, who have been demanding higher wages for years, gained more bargaining power.
Although the pilots rejected an 18-month settlement months ago, the airline says it is confident that the new policy will be widely accepted. The next steps include finalizing the language of the agreement and subsequently voting on its legitimacy and fairness. Before ratification, every pilot will have the opportunity to thoroughly read and critique it.
While the average wage among pilots varies depending on their experience and the aircraft they operate, the new pay raise ensures they will receive a universal increase ranging from 34.5 to 40.2%. Additionally, pay rates will immediately increase by almost 20% following the signing date.
Personnel operating the Boeing 737-700, 737-7, 757, Airbus A319, and the new A321neo will receive the highest increase of 18.7%. The lowest rate is 13.8% for pilots operating the 737-800, 737-8, and A320. Other benefits include increased pay and flexibility during vacation hours, certified pay on medical leave, and changes in retirement funding. Overall, over US$10 billion will be spent over the four years of the contract.
Remarks from ALPA, Airline Officials
UA CEO Scott Kirby stated online that “We promised our world-class pilots the industry-leading contract they deserve, and we’re pleased to have reached an agreement with ALPA on it. The four-year agreement, once ratified, will deliver a meaningful pay raise and quality of life improvements for our pilots while putting the airline on track to achieve the incredible potential of our United Next strategy.”
“This agreement in principle could not have happened without the steadfast resolve of the 16,000 United pilots,” Captain Garth Thompson, chair of the UA ALPA Master Executive Council, stated. “The tireless dedication demonstrated by United pilots over the past several years ensured our solidarity which was instrumental in achieving this historic agreement.”
From Turbulence to Clarity: Latest Contract Settlements
Amid months of negotiations between US carriers and ALPA, The ongoing aviation crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic has motivated airlines and pilots across the country to work toward an agreement that would increase pay and benefits with new contracts now changing the industry to guarantee better lives for every commercial pilot.
In March, pilots at Delta Air Lines (DL) ratified a new pay policy that had been under negotiation for several years. They became the first major US carrier to finalize an agreement that was widely accepted throughout the corporation, with around 78% of the pilots approving it. The pilots are expected to receive a pay increase of 34% over four years.
Two months ago, American Airlines (AA) reached a settlement with its pilots for a four-year contract that includes steep raises following the pilot shortage and better scheduling. The highest pay for a captain operating narrow-body aircraft is expected to be US$475,000 annually. Although AA’s 15,000 pilots are still in the process of ratifying the agreement, the offer ended a stressful conflict for both the pilots and the carrier, avoiding a potential strike.
Southwest Airlines (WN) is still negotiating a contract that will get approval from its pilots who are seeking a strike following the carrier’s failure to resolve key policies, continuing the tense three-year conflict.
Featured image: United Aviate Academy