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Spirit Airlines Pilots: Is The Airline Eyeing Flat Pay For Five Years?

Date: May 19, 2022

By Ted Reed, Forbes

Pilots at Spirit Airlines SAVE -0.9% haven’t taken a position on the carrier’s merger future, but they don’t like what they have seen about the carrier’s plan for their futures.

In a letter sent to members on Wednesday, Ryan Muller, chairman of the Spirit chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, said he is concerned that Spirit has no intent to raise pilot wages over the next five years. Spirit has about 3,000 pilots.

Muller said he read a JetBlue Securities & Exchange Commission filing, which described an April 19th conference call in which Spirit management described a five-year plan that “did not contemplate any wage increase for team members, including pilots, at a time of high attrition and an anticipated shortage of pilots.”

The call included “members of JetBlue leadership and Spirit’s senior management team, along with representatives from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley MS -0.4% and Barclays,” Muller said. Topics included “various financial due diligence items, including Spirit’s five-year plan,” he said. One topic was Spirit’s proxy statement, “focusing on Spirit’s unrealistic assumptions, especially with respect to costs associated with personnel attrition and wage inflation” and which did not include wage increases.

Muller wrote to Spirit CEO Ted Christie, saying “I am deeply troubled by this information as it appears that either Spirit is not being transparent with its shareholders, or it is not contemplating any wage increases for pilots as part of its financial projections.

“Ted, I am requesting you please explain these statements,” wrote Mueller, an A320 captain. “My MEC and my pilots deserve answers. “

Spirit spokespersons did not respond to an email Thursday. Spirit’s board of directors said Thursday that it recommends that shareholders reject JetBlue’s hostile takeover attempt. The board is backing a competing merger effort with Frontier Airlines.

In his message to pilots, Muller included the text of his letter to Christie as well as a separate paragraph directed to the pilots.

“Your MEC wants to emphasize and reiterate that we are completely agnostic on whether Spirit Airlines pairs with JetBlue or Frontier or remains independent,” he wrote.

“You deserve to know what our management has publicly stated to the industry and its shareholders about the future of our pilot group,” he wrote. “If Spirit’s management team projects a future that does not contemplate the timely bargaining of an agreement to achieve significant, market-based compensation increases for our pilots we believe you deserve to know.”

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