Delta Air Lines has a new contract with pilots. American Airlines, United, and Southwest are all in pilot negotiations that have dragged on. Southwest pilots keep walking out on company rallies, United pilots have publicly turned their back on CEO Scott Kirby. They have leverage, because pilots remain in short supply and because pilots are able to scuttle an airline’s operations like no other work group can.
With tensions rising among pilots at American Airlines as well, management has put out a message directly to cockpit crew – rather than staying quiet in negotiations with its union – letting them know just how generous an offer they’re making: by the fourth year of the company’s proposed deal, a narrowbody captain would make as much as $475,000 – and a widebody captain up to $590,000 per year.
Announcement from @AmericanAir CEO Robert Isom today to pilots. He’s ready to match the dollars in @Delta pilots newly ratified deal, with even more quality of life guarantees. By year 4, narrow body captain tops at $475,000, wide body captain $590,000 annually. pic.twitter.com/0pEPCAM3Lo
— Doug Dunbar (@cbs11doug) March 8, 2023
American promises a first year pay increase of 21% plus more profit sharing and higher 401(k) contributions in the second year. By year four the average wage increase would be 40%. They’re making concessions on scheduling and quality of life demands, “worth more than $7 billion in incremental compensation, benefits, and quality-of-life improvements” over four years (emphasis mine).
Isom says this can be done quickly, and that the airline plans to communicate directly on a frequent basis. That’s something that doesn’t usually please union leaders.
By the way the increased costs from the pilots deal Isom is promoting is more money than the airline is currently earning, even including from the sale of frequent flyer miles. They have to hope – with wages increasing across the board – that fares will rise concomitantly, or they’re going to get themselves in trouble here.