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Southwest Pilots Reach Preliminary Agreement

The Dallas-based airline and its pilots have been negotiating a new contract for nearly four years.

A Southwest 737 MAX 8 over the threshold in Las Vegas. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Southwest and its pilots – represented by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) – have reached an agreement-in-principle (AIP) on a new contract. The union announced the AIP on Tuesday, which is one of the first steps in inking a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The AIP will now head to the union’s 25-member board of directors where – if approved – will become a tentative agreement (TA) and be voted on by the carrier’s 11,000 pilots. Southwest is the last of the major U.S. carriers to finalize a new pilot contract. The airline and its pilots have been at the bargaining table for nearly four years.

“This AIP comes after three-and-a-half long years of negotiating. We are finally at a place where we think the value of our pilots and their productivity is being realized,” said SWAPA President Captain Casey Murray in a press release. “Our pilots and Southwest Airlines customers deserve security and confidence in our future and we believe that this contract achieves that.”

While the union did not provide details on the new agreement, aviation careers news outlet Aero Crew News says pay rates would be equivalent to Delta 757/767 first officer pay, and Delta 737 captain pay plus one percent, citing internal sources. These rates would equate to approximately $243 and $341 at the top of the pay scales respectively.

“We are pleased to reach an Agreement in Principle with the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association for Southwest’s nearly 11,000 Pilots. The AIP is a key milestone in the process, and we look forward to the next steps,” a Southwest spokesperson said in a statement.

In June, SWAPA petitioned the National Mediation Board (NMB) to be released from the federal mediation process. However, this request was later denied.

Southwest’s flight attendants – who are represented by the Transport Workers Union – are also voting on a new contract, which would see 36% pay increases over the tentative agreement’s term. The nearly 19,000 flight attendants are set to revote on a tentative agreement following hiccups with the voting system.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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