On Tuesday morning, Southwest Airlines and the union representing its pilots reached a preliminary labor deal, after more than two years of contentious talks. The agreement, which is still subject to approval from the membership, will provide “industry-leading pay and job security” for Southwest pilots.
The deal comes after a long process of negotiations between the union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and Southwest. Over the course of the negotiations, the union had repeatedly threatened job actions, including a possible strike, to secure an improved deal.
Southwest, which is the largest operator of Boeing 737 aircrafts, currently employs over 8,000 pilots. According to the ALPA, the new deal will cover “all aspects” of pilot pay, benefits, and job security. It also guarantees that pilots remain at the “forefront of the industry.”
The new deal will go into effect after receiving approval from ALPA’s membership, who will likely vote on the contract in the coming months. Once the deal is finalized, it will expire in 2026.
The conclusion of the contract negotiations marks a major milestone for both sides, as well as for the airline industry as a whole. The deal should provide labor stability in the industry, which has been rocked in recent years by rising costs, a shortage of experienced pilots, and potential labor disruptions.