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Southwest Pilots Ratify New $12 Billion Contract

The new agreement is set to boost pilot pay by 50% over five years.

A Southwest Airlines 737-700 pushing back in Pittsburgh. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Southwest pilots – represented by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) – overwhelmingly approved a new contract on Monday, which includes 50% pay raises over the life of the agreement. According to the union, 98.8% of its members voted on the new contract with 92.73% voting in favor and 7.27% against.

Valued at $12 billion, the airline is the last major U.S. carrier to ink a new pilot contract. American, Delta, and United ratified new collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with their pilot groups last year.

Southwest pilots are set to receive an immediate 29.15% pay increase upon ratification followed by 4% incremental raises in 2025, 2026, and 2027, and a 3.25% raise in 2028. The new contract also includes quality-of-life enhancements and modifications to scheduling procedures among other changes. SWAPA also notes that the CBA includes ‘continued industry-leading Scope protections.’

The Dallas-based airline has recently faced pilot attrition woes. According to a December Bloomberg report, pilots have used Southwest as a stepping stone between flying at a regional carrier and a larger carrier, something the airline hasn’t widely seen in its over 50-year history.

Southwest’s Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson called this increasing phenomenon “resume washing.”

“So they use us as a premeditated way station. They come to Southwest, get hired, trained, spend six months and then they flip their resume and apply somewhere else,” Watterson told Bloomberg.

The new CBA is set to better position top-of-scale pay rates with those of American, Delta, or United. Unlike many other airlines, Southwest has over 11,000 pilots in its ranks and hired nearly 2,000 in 2023.

Other Southwest Labor Groups

Since October 2022, Southwest says it has ratified new agreements with nine of its union-represented workgroups. The carrier’s flight attendants recently rejected a tentative agreement (TA), which would boost pay by 36% over the agreement’s five-year term. The Transport Workers Union (TWU)-represented flight attendants are set to revote on the agreement.

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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