American Airlines Pilots OK Preliminary Contract Draft

After years of negotiations, American Airlines pilots have reached an agreement in principle on a new contract with the airline that is now pending approval.



May 19, 2023

DALLAS — After years of negotiations, American Airlines (AA) pilots have reached an agreement in principle on a new contract, their union said on Friday.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents over 13,000 pilots at AA in Texas, has stated that it will complete contractual language before presenting the contract to its board for approval.

Reuters, which first broke the news, says the AA did not provide a contract value, but stated that it encompassed pay and profit sharing that was competitive in the industry, as well as improved quality-of-life provisions. According to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation, the contract is for four years and includes pay rates comparable to those at Delta Air Lines (DL).

The AA pilot contract also includes scheduling improvements, which APA says are critical for pilots seeking a better work-life balance in a profession that frequently requires them to be away from their families for days at a time.

Photo: ATP American Airlines Cadet Pilot Training

Contract Negotiation Background

The previous contract was set to expire in 2020. Last year, AA pilots rejected an offer that included a 19% pay increase spread over two years. The ratification of DL's new contract last March put pressure on AA and other major U.S. airlines to reach similar agreements with their pilot unions.

At the time, 96% of eligible DL pilots voted on the four-year contract, which provides an estimated US$7bn in economic value. Now, in a year when AA, Southwest Airlines (WN), and United Airlines (UA) are all in negotiations for new contracts, the DL pilot contract agreement looms over all others, as a new standard for contract negotiations was set in North America.

Matching DL's deal would cost AA US$8bn over four years, according to AA's estimates. Approval of the contract should come soon, as the industry prepares for a busy summer travel season.

Featured image: American Airlines pilots at MIA. Photo: Brandon Wade/American Airlines