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Southwest, pilots reach tentative agreement for contract worth $12 billion

Dec 20, 2023, 3:38 PM

Southwest Airlines plane prepares to land at Midway International Airport, Feb. 12, in Chicago. (Ki...

Southwest Airlines plane prepares to land at Midway International Airport, Feb. 12, in Chicago. (Kiichiro Sato/AP)

(Kiichiro Sato/AP)

(CNN) — After three years of negotiating, Southwest Airlines and the union representing the airline’s pilots reached a tentative agreement on a new contract on Wednesday.

“We know that the last few years have been difficult for our pilots as well as our customers, but we believe that this TA rewards our pilots as well as improving reliability for our passengers,” said Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President Casey Murray in a statement.

The SWAPA union’s 25-member board approved the deal Wednesday after union leadership reached an initial agreement in principle with Southwest earlier this week.

But the deal isn’t guaranteed to go to contract: the union’s nearly 11,000 members can vote on whether or not to approve the contract until January 22.

A spokesperson for SWAPA told CNN the contract is worth $12 billion. Reuters first reported the contract’s dollar amount.

The agreement runs through December 2028 and “provides significant gains in compensation, with pay rate increases over the next four years,” the union said.

The deal also includes flying schedule improvements, better disability coverage and increases to retirement benefits, according to the union.

Adam Carlisle, the vice president of labor relations at Southwest Airlines, said in a statement to CNN that he was glad the airline’s pilots would get to vote on the agreement soon.

Our pilots are exemplary aviators, and this agreement would give them industry-leading pay rates and numerous quality-of-life enhancements, while also providing opportunities for operational improvements,” Carlisle said.

The deal comes days after the US Department of Transportation announced it would fine Southwest $140 million for last year’s 10-day-long holiday meltdown that stranded more than 2 million travelers, making it the largest-ever civil penalty.

If the contract deal is approved by Southwest’s pilots, it will be the latest major pilot contract agreement in the last 12 months, after Delta Air LinesUnited Airlines and American Airlines reached their own deals with pilots’ unions.

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Southwest, pilots reach tentative agreement for contract worth $12 billion