American Airways gives pilots almost 17% raises in new contract proposal

Pilots talk as they look at the tail of an American Airlines aircraft.

Mike Stone | Reuters

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom on Thursday said the carrier has offered its pilots pay raises totaling nearly 17% under a new contract, according to an internal video seen by CNBC.

The latest proposal to the pilots’ union, the Allied Pilots Association, comes less than a week after rival United Airlines and its pilots’ union reached a tentative agreement that includes more than 14% in total raises within 18 months, the first major US airline in the industry to get to that point in the pandemic.

That agreement faces a vote by United’s pilots that ends in mid-July, however, and it is still not clear whether it has enough support to pass.

Earlier this month, Isom said American would make a new offer to the carrier’s roughly 15,000 pilots once the details of United’s deal were released.

Its proposal includes a 6% raise at signing and then 5% raises at the start of 2023 and 2024.

“United put forth industry leading pay, and we matched that for our team,” Isom said in the video message Thursday, referring to pilot pay rates. The difference in percentages is due to higher pay for United pilots.

American’s latest proposal comes as the industry is struggling with a shortage of pilots, particularly at smaller regional airlines. At the same time, travel demand has soared, catching many airlines flat-footed, especially during peak travel periods.

Isom said American is proposing other pay increases for training and 50% premium on reassignment, including for reserve crews. There are other incentives such as retroactive pay if the agreement is ratified by Sept. 30, he said.

“Getting a deal done quickly will help strengthen our training program and ensure we can continue to grow,” he said.

Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines captain and spokesman for the union, said the APA is reviewing the proposal.

The APA’s relationship with American has been one of the most fruitful in the industry. The union has repeatedly complained about fatigue from grueling schedules and other quality of life issues, such as schedule changes, issues it wanted addressed in the next contract.

American pilots have picked to protest working conditions and a lack of progress in negotiations.

Pilots for Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines have also picked for similar reasons. Delta’s pilots most recently picked at airports around the US on Thursday, all three are in contract negotiations.

Earlier this week, American Airlines’ regional carrier Envoy Air said pilots could receive triple pay for picking up open trips in July, CNBC reported earlier this week.

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