United Airlines and the union that represents its pilots announced on Saturday that they have agreed on a deal that will increase pilots’ salaries by up to 40% over four years.
The union valued the agreement at about $10 billion. More than four years of turbulent negotiations followed, including pickets and talks on a strike vote.
The deal reflects the influence workers’ groups, particularly pilots, are enjoying as airline revenues rise on the back of the strong recovery in travel.
The Air Line Pilots Association said the agreement, which is subject to a ratification vote, would put United pilots on an equal footing with their counterparts at Delta Air Lines, who agreed to a pay rise deal earlier in the year.
The union said the agreement included significant increases in wages, pensions and job security.
In terms of pay, at least, the deal looks far better than one the United pilots turned down last November.
Once the deal is approved, pilots will receive immediate wage increases ranging from 13.8% to 18.7%, depending on the type of aircraft they fly, followed by four smaller annual increases, according to a summary on the union’s website.
Over the term of the contract, the pilot’s salary would increase by 34.5% to 40.2%.
Garth Thompson, chairman of the United Pilots’ Union, called it a “historic agreement” made possible by the determination of the 16,000 pilots.
In a statement on social media site LinkedIn, CEO Scott Kirby said, “We promised our world-class pilots the industry-leading contract they deserve and we’re delighted to have reached an agreement with ALPA.”
American Airlines pilots are expected to vote on July 24 on an offer that will see average cumulative increases of 41.5% over a four-year period. Southwest Airlines pilots are still negotiating.
American and Southwest have independent unions, while pilots at Delta and United are represented by ALPA.
Unions believe they are in a powerful bargaining position vis-à-vis airlines, which have drawn out $54 billion in federal aid to deal with the pandemic and are booming on a revival in travel.
The number of people flying in the US is roughly back to pre-pandemic levels.
This week, Delta reported record quarterly earnings of more than $1.8 billion and record April-June revenue, which includes the early part of the summer travel season.
United is expected to report results on Wednesday, according to a FactSet poll, and analysts expect the airline to report profits in excess of $1.3 billion.