American Airlines pilots approve new contract that includes pay boost, benefits

Delta Air Lines pilots approved a new contract in March

American Airlines pilots approved a new contract Monday that is said to improve pilot schedules and includes a pay boost over the next four years. 

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots, announced that more than 70% of its members voted to ratify a tentative agreement the union struck with the airline earlier this month. 

Contract negotiations started in 2019 and were later delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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According to the union, pilots will see an immediate pay raise of more than 21% on average. They will also get subsequent pay raises each May and get an increase in 401(k) contributions.

Pilot compensation rates at American will rise by more than 46% over the course of the contract.

An American Airlines and a JetBlue jet on the runway

An American Airlines plane lands on a runway near a parked JetBlue plane.  ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Aside from pay, the union said pilots will have a better quality of life with enhanced benefits such as increases in training pay, reassignment pay and per diem, which is money used to cover expenses for an employee during travel. 

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"The pilots of American Airlines have spoken: It’s time to move forward with a new working agreement that provides substantial monetary gains and quality-of-life improvements," Allied Pilots Association President Capt. Ed Sicher said. 

Sicher noted that the contract marks 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." 

A Delta Air Lines Inc. plane departs Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

A Delta Air Lines Inc. plane departs Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 7, 2021. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The contract will be amendable on Aug. 1, 2027. However, there is a provision for the next round of bargaining to begin as soon as November 2026, according to the union.

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The move comes after Delta Air Lines pilots voted in March to approve a new contract with significant pay raises and improved benefits. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC. 10.48 -0.21 -1.96%
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 43.60 -0.24 -0.55%
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS INC. 48.22 +0.03 +0.06%
LUV SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. 27.18 -0.49 -1.77%

That agreement gives Delta’s 15,000 pilots a 34% increase in pay raises over the next four years, costing the company about $7 billion. It also contains policy changes aimed at improving pilots’ quality of life, vacations and other benefits.

Prior to finalizing their contracts, pilots from both airlines picketed at airports nationwide to put pressure on the carrier to reach a new contract that will offer, in part, better pay and better schedules. 

They aren't the only airlines, either. United's pilots are slated to vote on a deal approved by the airline and the union this fall. 

Southwest Airlines pilots are still negotiating.