American Airlines Pilots Ratify New Contract

The tentative American Airlines agreement includes changes aimed at more reliable passenger service, the union says.

A plane taking off from a runway as the sun rises.
(Image credit: Daniel Garrido / Getty Images)

The majority of American Airlines (AA) pilots have voted to ratify a tentative four-year contract with airline management that includes a 21% pay hike and work-rule changes aimed at ensuring more reliable passenger service and more predictable schedules for pilots.

The tentative agreement, reached Aug. 1 and valued at $9 billion, "is a big first step toward restoring the wages, benefits and work rules that were lost during the past two decades while our profession was under continuous assault,” Capt. Ed Sicher, president of the Allied Pilots Association (APA) union that serves about 15,000 AA pilots, said in a statement. He also said the agreement provides substantial monetary gains and quality-of-life improvements.

For American Airlines, the agreement will help to immediately expand pilot training capacity to support under-used aircraft and provide opportunities for pilots to progress in their careers, AA CEO Robert Isom said in a statement.

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About 73% of pilots voted in favor of the contract, which includes $1.1 billion in immediate one-time payments and ratification bonuses as well as annual pay rate increases for the contract’s duration. It becomes amendable on Aug. 1, 2027, with a provision for the next round of bargaining to begin as soon as November 2026.

On July 27, the union and AA management reached an agreement in principle that included contingency clauses tied to United Airline pilots ratifying their separate agreement in principle with management by Jan. 1, 2024. The plan includes an agreement to raise American Airlines pay rates to match those of United and Delta airlines, the latter of which reached a deal with its pilots in March.

American Airlines flight attendants still eyeing strike

Several other pilots unions are still seeking new contracts or are in talks with their carriers, however. These include FedEx pilots, who rejected a tentative agreement with their carrier last month. Also, the federal National Mediation Board (NMB) denied Southwest Airlines Pilots Association’s request to be released from mediation and halt talks with Southwest earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union representing more than 26,000 AA flight attendants, began a strike authorization vote on July 28, which is set to close on Aug. 29. 

APFA made a filing with the NMB in April. The group said that that if it cannot reach an agreement with American Airlines management, it could request to be released in 30 days, after which its members would be free to strike.

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Esther D’Amico
Senior News Editor

Esther D’Amico is Kiplinger’s senior news editor. A long-time antitrust and congressional affairs journalist, Esther has covered a range of beats including infrastructure, climate change and the industrial chemicals sector. She previously served as chief correspondent for a financial news service where she chronicled debates in and out of Congress, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Commerce Department with a particular focus on large mergers and acquisitions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and in English.