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Substantial pay raise at Southwest


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Boeing’s 747 entered service in 1970 when pilot salaries were so high people joked that the signature hump atop the forward fuselage was designed in so that the captains could sit on their wallets. Based on terms of a new contract yesterday (Dec. 20), Southwest Airlines (SWA) might need to send its fleet of 737s to the body shop for a 747-esque resto-mod. As announced by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), salaries will increase by 50% over five years for what amounts to a cumulative $12 billion dollar agreement for SWA’s 10,000-plus pilots.


The SWA deal rivals recent pilot-salary agreements at United Airlines and American Airlines, as the ongoing pilot shortage continues to provide leverage for pilots’ unions.

The SWA pay hikes will come in increments over the course of the current collective bargaining agreement, which runs through 2028. Pilots will realize an immediate raise of 29.15% upon ratification of the agreement, followed up by 4% annual increases over the next three years and a 3.25% increase in 2028. There is also enhanced financial protection for crew members who are unable to fly due to fatigue. Pilots will vote on the deal on Jan. 22.

SWAPA President Casey Murray said in a written statement: “We are finally at a place where we think the value of our pilots and their productivity is being realized. Our pilots and Southwest Airlines customers deserve security and confidence in our future, and we believe that this contract achieves that.”

That could be a reference to countering a practice known as “résumé washing,” whereby new pilots would apply for positions at Southwest with an eye toward moving on to higher-paying airlines after a short tenure with the Dallas-based carrier. That bypasses agreements the more established airlines traditionally have with their regional affiliates to draw new-hire pilots from their ranks after they accrue enough hours.

Southwest chief operating officer Andrew Watterson said in a Dec. 13 interview that pilots “use us as a premeditated way station. They come to Southwest, get hired, trained, spend six months and then they flip their résumé and apply somewhere else.” With pay scales now on a more even keel, the incentive to move on to greener pastures could be far less enticing.

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Southwest Airlines pilots approve new five-year contract

(Reuters) -Southwest Airlines said on 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.

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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