United Airlines pilots walk inside the airport as they participate in an information picket at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey on May 12, 2023.
Edward Munoz | Reuters
United Airlines and its pilots’ union have agreed to a preliminary labor agreement that includes wage increases of up to 40.2% over four years, ending months of tense negotiations and picketing at the airport. The deal makes United airmen the latest from a major airline to strike a deal for higher wages amid the post-pandemic travel boom.
The preliminary agreement, which the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) announced on Saturday, comes months after Delta Airlines the pilots ratified a new contract which included increases of 34% over four years, the first of the four major airlines to agree a new agreement. American airlines and its pilots union reached a new labor agreement with 40% increases over four years, although it still faces a ratification vote by members.
The pandemic has halted contract talks across the industry, but workers have been pushing for higher wages and better working conditions since travel demand returned and talks resumed.
ALPA said the tentative deal is worth about $10 billion. It includes a host of other improvements, including overtime pay, holiday pay, and scheduling. Cumulative salary increases range from 34.5% to 40.2% depending on the type of aircraft a pilot flies.
The agreement in principle will only be finalized after ratification by the company’s 16,000 pilots.
“We have promised our world-class drivers the cutting-edge contract they deserve, and we are delighted to have reached an agreement with ALPA on this,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a post on LinkedIn. “The four-year agreement, once ratified, will deliver a significant pay rise and quality of life improvements for our pilots while putting the airline on track to realize the incredible potential of our United Next strategy. .”
Drivers overwhelmingly rejected a preliminary 18-month deal last year.
United are expected to report second-quarter results after the market closes on Wednesday, and executives are expected to face questions over the cost of the deal on a conference call the following day.