Pilots at Spirit Airlines say they remain “agnostic” over whether the carrier merges with Frontier or is acquired by JetBlue in a hostile takeover. The ALPA pilots union which represents flight crew at the Florida-based airline said its main priority was ensuring that pilots get a “competitive, market-based” contract no matter who owns the company.
The position that Spirit’s pilots have taken stands in stark contrast to public statements made by flight attendants at all three airlines caught up in the drama.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) has thrown its weight behind the original planned merger between Spirit and Frontier, while the Transport Workers Union (TWU) has spoken out against JetBlue’s hostile takeover on the grounds that the airline has allegedly proven itself to be an “abusive employer”.
The Spirit Airlines Master Executive Council of the ALPA union, however, said on Thursday that it “remains agnostic on whether Spirit Airlines pairs with JetBlue or Frontier or remains independent”.
“We are and will remain focused on ensuring that any transaction addresses the current pilot demand and delivers a competitive, market-based contract that retains and attracts qualified pilots,” a statement from the union continued.
On Thursday, Spirit’s board of directors unanimously rejected a takeover bid from JetBlue for a second time after concluding the deal isn’t in the “best interests of Spirit and its stockholders”.
Key to the Spirit board’s decision is its assessment that the JetBlue takeover wouldn’t clear a Department of Justice antitrust regulatory hurdle. JetBlue has urged Spirit shareholders to ignore that recommendation and vote in favor of its takeover saying the deal with Frontier “offers less value, more risk, and no regulatory commitments, despite a similar regulatory profile”.
But while pilots seemingly don’t mind who controls Spirit, the union is dismayed over the airline’s financial projections which seemingly suggest flight crew won’t be getting any pay rises in the next few years.
Union chairman Captain Ryan Muller wrote to Spirit CEO Ted Christie earlier this week, saying he was “deeply troubled” by the financial projections and said it appeared that Spirit “is not being transparent with its shareholders, or it is no contemplating any wage increases for pilots as parts of its financial projections”.
JetBlue has urged pilots, flight attendants and other workers at Spirit to back its bid for the carrier because it believes its takeover would see wage increases.
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.