Pilots at American Airlines have moved one step closer to a potential strike and will soon start voting on whether they support an almost unprecedented walkout in protest at protracted contract negotiations.
The decision to open a strike ballot was made just a day after AA chief executive Robert Isom made a direct appeal to pilots with an offer of a bumper 40 percent pay hike, along with a slew of lifestyle improvements that was meant to woo pilots.
During a meeting of the Allied Pilots Association (APA) on Wednesday, however, the union’s board of directors unanimously voted in favor of starting an electronic strike authorization vote, according to internal documents obtained by aviation insider xJonNYC on Twitter.
The strike vote is set to stretch on for the next two months and will not conclude until April 30, with results set to be published on May 1. Even before the results are published, the union will establish a dedicated ‘strike center’ at its headquarters in preparation for a possible walkout.
Isom wrote to pilots on Tuesday with details of a four-year deal that would see average pilot rates increase by 40 per cent. A top-rated widebody aircraft Captain could earn $590,000 a year – an increase of $170,000 more than what they earn at the moment.
“A deal like this would be a game changer for our pilots. I would be worth more than $7 billion in incremental compensation, benefits and quality of life improvements over the terms of the four-year agreement,” Isom explained.
The offer was made in response to a game-changing contract that pilots recently approved at rival Delta Air Lines, and Isom claims his deal would result in AA pilots joining their Delta peers as the “industry’s leaders in pay”.
The timing of the strike authorization vote isn’t ideal for Isom’s proposed pay offer, but it is hardly surprising.
In fact, a strike vote is generally considered a fairly standard negotiation tactic and similar votes were held by pilots at Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines before deals were struck.
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.