Southwest Airlines reaches tentative deal with mechanics to end dispute

By TransportationFOXBusiness

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Southwest Airlines and its mechanics reached a tentative labor agreement that could end a standoff between the two sides that led to hundreds of canceled flights and cost the carrier millions of dollars.

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In a joint statement on Saturday, the Dallas-based airline and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association said the deal would bump pay by 20 percent for the nearly 2,400 mechanics and includes a $160 million one-time bonus. It must still be approved by the union.

“We are very pleased with the efforts of both teams to find common ground on a new contract,” the two sides said.

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Southwest was forced to declare an “operational emergency” in February after maintenance issues with some of its jets forced a higher-than-normal amount of out-of-service aircraft. In a lawsuit, the airline accused union members of flagging non-safety related items to manufacture a crisis and force the company to make more concessions in the tentative labor agreement.

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Southwest and the mechanics union have been in negotiations for more than six years, most recently in federally mediated sessions. The AMFA previously rejected an agreement that included a 16.3 percent pay raise.

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The airline is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration over how it calculates baggage weight.