Pilots at American Airlines approved a contract on Monday that will increase pilot compensation by more than 46 percent and includes other benefits and changes.
Under the contract, the pay of pilots at the company immediately increased by an average of 21 percent upon ratification. By August 2027, total compensation will have increased by more than 46 percent, including pay raises and increased retirement contributions by the airline. The deal is broadly similar to new contracts reached this year by pilots at Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.
Across the industry, pilots have negotiated big raises and other gains, including greater protection against last-minute schedule changes. The contract victories reflect the strength of the recovery in air travel and the leverage enjoyed by pilots, who are in high demand. At major airlines, pilots can easily earn six-figure salaries. At the top end of the profession, pilots who fly long international flights typically earn several hundred thousand dollars a year.
“This contract is a big first step toward restoring the wages, benefits and work rules that were lost during the past two decades while our profession was under continuous assault,” said Capt. Ed Sicher, the president of the Allied Pilots Association, the union that represents American’s 15,000 pilots.
Nearly all of the pilots weighed in on the new contract, with more than 72 percent approving it over two weeks of voting, which closed on Monday. The deal includes about $1.1 billion in immediate and retroactive payments and ratification bonuses.
In addition to the raises, American’s pilots will also receive more pay when they go on vacation, are reassigned or are in training. The company had also agreed to improved life insurance, long-term disability and retirement benefits.
“This agreement will help American immediately expand our pilot training capacity to support underutilized aircraft and future flying and provide our pilots with more opportunities to progress in their careers,” American’s chief executive, Robert Isom, said in a statement.
Delta’s pilots set a baseline for negotiations in March, when they voted to approve a contract that would raise wages 34 percent by 2026. United’s pilots last month ratified an agreement that will increase pay by 40 percent in the coming years.
American, Delta, United and Southwest Airlines each reported record quarterly revenues in the three months ending in June, reflecting the strong and ongoing recovery from the depths of the pandemic, boosted most recently by international travel. Southwest’s pilots are still negotiating a new contract.