United Airlines to increase pilot pay by 14%

Under a new agreement struck with the firm, United Airlines pilots would get wage increases of more than 14% over the course of 18 months as well as paid maternity leave, highlighting the strong bargaining position pilots have in a sector with a shortage of qualified workers.

It will now be forwarded to members for approval after being endorsed by union leaders on Friday. Pilots have until July 15 to cast their votes on the agreement.

According to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents more than 14,000 pilots at the Chicago-based carrier, the deal offers greater overtime and training compensation as well as cumulative pay increases of more than 14.5 percent. The contract now also stipulates eight weeks of paid maternity leave.

The first significant American airline to secure a new contract deal with its pilots is United. It is anticipated that it will serve as a standard for contract discussions at other carriers.

Pilots are protesting nearly all of the major carriers in favor of better pay and less “fatiguing” schedules in their new contracts.

On June 30, pilots of competitor Delta Air Lines want to strike throughout the country in protest of “stalled” contract discussions. In a similar vein, Alaska Air Group Inc. pilots have decided to approve a strike in the event that a new contract cannot be negotiated.

Airlines are experiencing a personnel crisis as a result of the hundreds of pilots who were laid off when travel was suspended at the height of the coronavirus outbreak. Staff shortages caused some carriers to shorten their summer schedules as travel increased.

Regional airlines, where attrition rates are skyrocketing due to poaching by higher-paying major carriers, are experiencing shortages that are even more acute.

Three small American Airlines-owned airlines this month announced significant pay hikes for pilots in an effort to recruit and keep talent. For instance, Piedmont Airlines upped the compensation for its pilots by as much as 87%.

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