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United Airlines pilots get a 14% pay raise in new contract

United Airlines Boeing 777ER. Plane to Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport.

Massimo Insabato | Mondadori Directory | beautiful pictures

Representative union United Airlines pilots have approved a deal that is expected to increase pilots’ salaries by more than 14%, making it the first major US airline to strike a deal since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and sets the standard for the rest of the industry.

The deal comes as the airline and others grapple with a shortage of pilots, which some say has forced them to cut flight schedule. The contract faces a vote by pilots’ ranks and filings will end in mid-July.

Under the deal approved Friday, pilots will get a pay raise of more than 14.5% over 18 months, according to the Airline Pilots Association, which represents about 14,000 United pilots.

According to Kit Darby, a retired pilot pay consultant and captain for United, pilot salaries at United as of 2020 range from about $73,000 a year for a first-time officer on the job. The airline’s smallest aircraft comes in at more than $337,000 for a wide-body captain. However, salaries can vary widely depending on how often pilots fly.

The two-year deal also includes eight weeks of paid maternity leave, a first for the airline’s pilots. United says women make up about 7% of its pilot ranks.

The deal sets the tone for negotiations with other major US carriers, including Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, as unions seek improvements in quality of life two years after the pandemic. Some pilots say airlines have created grueling schedules to take advantage of the travel recovery that makes them tired, and some have recently chosen to protest the conditions.

In a video message to pilots last week, American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said the company would review other carriers’ agreements, including United’s, and update payment proposals. firm’s salary after knowing the details.

“Our team will be well-paid and competitively paid. You won’t fall behind your network peers,” Isom said in a video seen by CNBC.

Flight attendants and other workgroups at major airlines are also negotiating contracts.

Airlines’ staffing struggles have worsened during the pandemic. Although U.S. airlines have received $54 billion in taxpayer pay aid barred from layoffs, airlines have urged many pilots to retire early and quit, which has create a recruiting and training backlog.

The pilot shortage is particularly acute at regional airlines, which often fly to smaller cities. Two of American Airlines’ regional carriers, Envoy and Piedmont, said last week they would temporarily increase pilot salaries by more than 50% to help attract and retain staff as competition for pilots heats up. up across the industry.

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