United gives pilots 5% early raises, citing return to profitability

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A United Airlines Boeing 777-200 lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California.

Louis Nastro | Reuters

United Airlines on Thursday it said it gave pilots 5% raises that were part of a pandemic cost-cutting deal months ahead of schedule, citing the airline’s return to profitability and optimistic outlook.

United are offering the raise during talks for a new contract with its pilots’ union. Talks with United and other airlines are difficult.

In 2020, the Chicago-based airline and the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents United’s more than 13,000 pilots, agreed to offer aviators a round of buyouts as the company worked to cut costs during its worst. crisis ever in the sector.

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In return, the company said it would increase its pilots’ hourly wages by 5% once the airline returned to a pre-tax margin of 5% or more for 12 months. They also agreed to work and wage protections.

United reported a 9% pre-tax margin in the last quarter. While the airline still lost money in the first nine months of the year, it expects a profitable end through 2022.

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The company could have waited until May 2023 to pay the pay increases, Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations, wrote to pilots on Thursday. The increases will take effect during the December bidding month.

“This is a show of good faith and a down payment on a market-leading, industry-leading employment contract,” Quigley wrote. “It’s also a recognition of the role you played in helping United survive the pandemic and recover so much stronger.”

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ALPA, the union, did not immediately comment.

United pilots voted overwhelmingly against a recently proposed deal that would have increased wages by about 15% in 18 months.

The union said United pilots plan to move outside United’s flight training center in Denver next Tuesday. Delta, southwest, American and FedEx pilots have also pecked in recent months to demand better wages and schedules.