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Alaska Airlines Pilots Ratify Contract and Get Significant Pay Raises

Date: October 17, 2022

By Ethan Klapper, The Points Guy

The 3,300 pilots of Alaska Airlines are about to get a big raise.

The pilots, represented by their union, the Air Line Pilots Association, voted to ratify a tentative agreement that will give some members as much as a 23% wage increase, depending on years of service. The airline's most senior captains will earn $306 per hour, which will increase to $330 per hour in two years.

In addition, the agreement will implement ALPA-designed schedules and give pilots more schedule flexibility, as well as give pilots increased job security. Pilots will also see an increase in retirement plan contributions.

The vote was overwhelming, with 82% voting in favor of ratification. Ninety-six percent of Alaska's pilots voted, ALPA said.

“Our goal was to negotiate an agreement where our pilots could make Alaska Airlines a lifelong career and not just a stepping stone to another airline,” Capt. Will McQuillen, the head of Alaska's pilot union, said in a statement. “This contract is good for our pilots and their families and also good for our airline.”

Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci also hailed the agreement.

"Our pilots are leaders in our operation,” Minicucci said in the statement. “While it took some time, I’m glad to have them working under a new contract that values their contributions to Alaska. I’m grateful to our colleagues at ALPA who bargained with determination and a fierce dedication to our pilots. This new contract reiterates what many of us have known for decades: Alaska is a great place to spend a pilot career.”

The results, announced Monday, bring to an end a contentious few years of negotiations since the contract became amendable in 2020. Both sides turned to a federal mediator, and, in May, the pilots voted to authorize a strike.

Alaska's new collective bargaining agreement is the first of a mainline carrier to be ratified in the COVID era. Negotiations are ongoing at all other major airlines and, at some, have taken a contentious turn. Pilots at Delta Air Lines are voting this month to authorize a strike in a similar fashion to Alaska's pilots. Alaska's pilots never did strike — and a strike at Delta would also be unlikely.

Alaska's pay increases come amid a backdrop of soaring inflation, but also soaring revenue for airlines as travel rebounds following the worst of the pandemic.

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