Southwest Airlines pilots agree to 5-year, $12B labor deal

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By Dan Sears

Southwest Airlines said Monday its pilots approved a new labor agreement, which will offer about a 50% pay raise over a five-year period.

About 11,000 pilots affiliated with the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association had been negotiating for better pay, retirement benefits, disability insurance and a revised scheduling process after the contract ended in September 2020.

About 93% of the votes cast were in favor of the new $12 billion contract, the union said in a statement.

Pilots at the Dallas-based carrier will get a 29.15% pay raise immediately and a hike of 4% each in 2025, 2026 and 2027. The agreement provides for a 3.25% gain in wages in 2028.

Carriers are offering bumper contracts to attract and retain pilots as travel rebounds after the pandemic.

Last year, pilots at United Airlines Holdings ratified a contract with cumulative increases in wages ranging between 34.5% and 46% over four years, as well as other benefits, following deals at American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

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Southwest Airlines plane
Pilots at the Dallas-based Southwest will get a 29.15% pay raise immediately and a hike of 4% each in 2025, 2026 and 2027. AP

In the past two years, unions across the aerospace, construction, airline and rail industries have put up fights for higher wages and other benefits in a tight labor market.

Hefty pilot contracts have driven up costs at airlines and have also encouraged other work groups to demand similar gains.

Last month, flight attendants at Southwest voted against a five-year contract that would have made them the highest-paid cabin crew in the industry.

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