After years of contentious negotiations, Southwest Airlines and the pilots’ union have reached a tentative deal on a new five-year contract.
The two sides say they reached the agreement late Monday night after a tentative agreement was presented over the weekend.
The new deal is subject to ratification by the union’s 10,000-plus membership. If ratified, the deal would bring immediate financial gains to pilots, with increased pay, defined retirement benefits, and an improved work-life balance.
For Southwest, the agreement is seen as a step towards securing the airline’s long-term profitability and stability. It also removes a major obstacle to their planned expansion of international flights.
The leadership of the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) said in a statement that the new deal “generally meets our goals.” It said that the agreement achieved SWAPA’s goals of “attaining a lifetime retirement program and improved working conditions for our pilots.”
SWAPA added that the contract also provides a “framework for long-term stability and growth” for Southwest and its pilots.
The two sides had been at an impasse for nearly three months before the agreement was reached. The deadline for a strike was just two days away when the tentative deal was struck.
The new agreement is expected to be voted on by union members in the coming weeks.