American Airlines pilots ratify deal offering big raises

Pilots at American Airlines approved a contract Monday that will increase pilot compensation by more than 46 percent and include other benefits and changes.

Under the contract, the company’s pilots’ wages increased by an average of 21 percent immediately after approval. By August 2027, total compensation will increase by more than 46 percent, including wage increases and increases in airline pension contributions. The agreement is similar to agreements reached this year by Delta Air Lines and United Airlines pilots.

Across the industry, pilots have negotiated bigger raises and other gains, including more protection against last-minute schedule changes. The contract wins reflect the strength of aviation’s recovery and the leverage enjoyed by high-demand pilots. At major airlines, pilots can easily earn six-figure salaries. At the top end of the profession, pilots who fly long-haul international flights typically earn several hundred thousand dollars a year.

“This agreement is a major first step toward restoring the wages, benefits and work rules lost over the past two decades,” said Capt. Ed Sicher, president of the Allied Airmen’s Union. This represents 15,000 pilots in the United States.

Nearly all pilots weighed in on the new contract, with more than 72 percent approving in a two-week poll that ended Monday. The deal includes $1.1 billion in immediate and retroactive payments and approval bonuses.

In addition to raises, U.S. pilots receive more pay when they go on vacation, transfer duty, or are in training. The company also agreed to advanced life insurance, long-term disability and retirement benefits.

“This agreement will immediately expand American’s pilot training capabilities, support the future of flying aircraft, and provide our pilots with more opportunities to advance in their careers,” American Chief Executive Robert Isom said in a statement.

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Delta’s pilots set a baseline for negotiations in March, when they voted in favor of a 34 percent pay increase through 2026. United pilots last month agreed to a contract that will increase wages by 40 percent in the coming years.

American, Delta, United and Southwest Airlines each posted record quarterly revenue in the three months ended June, reflecting a strong and sustained recovery from the depths of the pandemic, boosted most recently by international travel. Southwest pilots are still negotiating a new contract.

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