United reaches a provisional, 4-year employment agreement with pilots, with up to a 40% increase

  • The new deal includes increases of as much as 40.2% over four years, depending on aircraft type.
  • The union estimates that the agreement is worth around 10 billion dollars.
  • Unions across the industry are pushing for higher wages and better working conditions in the lucrative post-pandemic travel boom.

United Airlines pilots enter the airport while participating in an information drive at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey on May 12, 2023.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

United Airlines and its pilots’ union have agreed to a tentative labor deal that includes wage increases of as much as 40.2% over four years, ending months of tense negotiations and airports. The agreement makes United’s fliers the latest from a major airline to reach an agreement on higher wages amid the post-pandemic travel boom.

The tentative agreement, announced Saturday by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), comes months after Delta Air Lines pilots ratified a new contract that included 34% raises over four years, the first of the top four airlines to reach a new deal. American Airlines and its pilots union reached a new labor agreement with 40% raises over four years, though it still faces a ratification vote by members.

The pandemic halted contract negotiations across the industry, but workers have pushed for higher wages and better working conditions since travel demand returned and talks resumed.

ALPA said the preliminary agreement is worth about $10 billion. It includes a number of other improvements, including overtime pay, holiday pay and scheduling. Cumulative salary increases range from 34.5% to 40.2% based on the type of aircraft a pilot flies.

The agreement in principle will not be finalized until it has been ratified by the company’s 16,000 pilots.

“We promised our world-class pilots the industry-leading contract they deserve, and we’re pleased to have reached an agreement with ALPA on that,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a LinkedIn post. “The four-year agreement, once ratified, will provide meaningful pay increases and quality-of-life improvements for our pilots, while putting the airline on track to achieve the incredible potential of our United Next strategy.”

The pilots overwhelmingly rejected a tentative 18-month deal last year.

United is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings after the market closes Wednesday, and executives are likely to face questions about the cost of the deal during a conference call the following day.

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