Long Beach, CA

Southwest the last airline without an agreement after United Airlines and its pilots reach $10 billion deal

LB4D News

Southwest plane leaves Long Beach Airport where the airline has 50 of the 58 flight slotsPhoto byLB4D News

United Airlines and its pilots’ union reached a deal on Saturday July 15, 2023. The union reports the deal will raise pilot pay over four years by up to 40% valuing the deal at between $7 billion and $10 billion.

The deal leaves Southwest and its pilots union the last major airline yet to settle a pilots’ contract. Negotiations for a contract have been on going for three years.

Last week, Long Beach Airport announced that Southwest was awarded two more slots at the popular Southern California Airport. Since arriving at Long Beach Airport in 2016. Southwest has continued to increase its presence and now has 50 of the 58 total flight slots that include 18 nonstop flights across the U.S. from Long Beach.

Southwest pilots voted to authorize a strike in a vote in May. On June 20, 2023 the union took another legal step toward striking when they asked to be released from federal mediation talks that have been ongoing since September 2022. Southwest flight attendants’ negotiators reached a contract deal earlier in 2023 then the union board rejected it. In June, Southwest reached a contract deal with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association that represents the airlines 2,800 mechanics and related workers.

The United deal still must be ratified. Once ratified, the United pilots will receive immediate raises between 13.8% and 18.7%, then four more smaller annual raises.

Airlines which received $54 billion in federal pandemic aid are making record profits since travel has rebounded. However, the airline industry has a pilot shortage which creates stiff pay competition. Industry analysts estimate there is a shortage of 10,000 pilots with the shortage predicted to last until 2027.

Airlines are in the process of releasing quarterly earnings results. This week Delta, which has already settled with its unions announced a record $1.8 billion revenue for April-June 2023. United is scheduled to release its earnings next week.

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