by B. N. Sullivan
After more than five years of negotiations, the pilots at AirTran Airways have reached a tentative contract agreement with the airline's management. The deal was announced late last week by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which has represented AirTran's pilots since 2009.
Details of the tentative agreement (TA) have not been disclosed, pending approval by the AirTran Master Executive Council (MEC) and ratification by the pilot membership. However Linden Hillman, chairman of ALPA's AirTran unit said, “We believe that this contract provides significant improvements in pay, quality of life, and other important benefits that our pilots have earned and deserve.”
If the MEC representatives give their approval, the TA will be put to the membership for a ratification vote next month.
In September of this year, AirTran Airways agreed to be acquired by Southwest Airlines. The acquisition is awaiting regulatory and shareholder approval.
“After our pilots get to vote on our new contract, we will be able to focus completely on the upcoming transition and merger with the Southwest pilot group,” said Hillman. “Our professional pilots with similar cultures and work ethic will combine to form an industry-leading workforce.”
Southwest's pilots are represented by the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA), an independent union not affiliated with ALPA.