The flight attendant union which represents crew members at both Frontier and Spirit Airlines threw its weight behind a merger between the two airlines on Tuesday after announcing that it had secured a so-called ‘merger transition agreement’ with Frontier which would protect jobs and, perhaps even more importantly, protect flight attendant seniority.
The agreement was announced just a day after JetBlue made an unsolicited offer for Spirit and urged the airline’s shareholders to reject Frontier’s rival bid.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) represents crew members at Spirit and Frontier, while JetBlue flight attendants are represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU).
Under the agreement reached between AFA and Frontier, flight attendant seniority would be preserved should the two companies merge. With seniority comes trip bidding privileges and preferential access to vacation booking, amongst other perks.
“We are thrilled to announce our support for the merger of Spirit and Frontier Airlines after reaching a transition agreement that protects Flight Attendant jobs,” commented Sara Nelson, international president of AFA on Tuesday.
“We support the necessary regulatory approvals that will improve competition, increase consumer options and experience, and maintain and grow good union jobs.”
The agreement means Frontier has cleared a major merger hurdle by winning the approval of one of the biggest workgroups at both airlines. As part of the deal, Frontier has agreed not to merge any operations until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached for the merged flight attendant workgroup.
Initially, former Spirit flight attendants will only fly on pre-merger Spirit aircraft and Frontier flight attendants will only fly on pre-merger Frontier aircraft.
Although both airlines operate Airbus A320 aircraft which would make merging the fleets and employees relatively easy, the union insisted on this provision to protect existing jobs and concentrate the minds of management to secure a joint agreement.
Along with a raft of other provisions, AFA has also secured a promise from Frontier that no flight attendants will be furloughed as the two airlines begin to consolidate routes and schedules after the merger.
Earlier this month, Spirit rejected a takeover offer from JetBlue but on Monday the airline said its board would review another unsolicited offer from JetBlue “consistent with its fiduciary duties and applicable law”.
JetBlue has slammed Spirit’s board as “conflicted” and says its “superior offer” was rejected “on baseless grounds”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.