- JetBlue pilots would get 21.5% raises over the next 18 months under a new contract.
- Spirit pilots approved a new contract weeks earlier, and the two carriers have planned to merge.
- Airline pilots have sought better schedules and pay after the Covid slump reversed.
JetBlue Airways pilots have approved a contract extension that comes with 21.5% raises over the next 18 months as the industry reverses slow progress in labor deals during a pilot shortage.
JetBlue last year reached a deal to acquire budget carrier Spirit Airlines. That airline's pilots approved a new two-year contract that their union estimated to be worth around $463 million. If the merger isn't approved by regulators, the union will go back into contract negotiations with the airline.
"We entered into these negotiations recognizing that mergers take time and our pilots couldn't wait for the compensation improvements they have earned," Capt. Chris Kenney, who chairs the JetBlue arm of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a statement.
Ninety-five percent of JetBlue's pilots participated in the vote and 75% of them approved the contract, ALPA said.
Many negotiations between airlines and labor unions have been fraught as pilots seek higher pay and better schedules after the pandemic slump gave way to a travel boom. A shortage of aviators and high demand from airlines large and small have also limited airlines' ability to grow.
Delta Air Lines' 15,000 pilots are reviewing a contract proposal that includes pay increases of 34% over four years. If approved, that would be the first large U.S. airline to reach a deal with pilots.
United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are still in talks with their pilots' labor unions.