Pilot pay at the major U.S. airlines is soaring as unions strengthened by a pilot shortage nail down gold-plated contracts.
So thanks to a no-one-left-behind clause in the contract agreed to last fall, Alaska Airlines pilots on Sept. 1 will get an 11.2 percent pay jump to keep up with wages at rival airlines, instead of the 4 percent minimum stipulated in last year’s deal.
In a message to the airline’s 3,600 pilots, Capt. Dave Mets, Alaska’s vice president of flight operations, called the upward wage adjustment “another huge investment” by the company.
“This fantastic news combined with our aircraft order book, future growth plans and industry leading financial strength and stability further solidifies your careers and your family’s long-term security,” Mets told the pilots.
Will McQuillen, a captain and the chair of the Air Line Pilots Association’s Alaska unit, said the union’s members are pleased with the outcome.
“It’s very competitive and reflects a commitment by management to attract and retain pilots and to want to compete” with rival airlines, McQuillen said.
Almost a year ago, Alaska Airlines was the first major airline to agree to a deal with its pilot union. That three-year contract boosted pay by up to 23 percent. From Sept. 1, top-of-the-scale captain pay was set at $306 per flying hour.
The contract stipulated that on Sept. 1, 2023, that would rise to $318.24 per hour. Instead, it’s jumping to $340.25 per hour.
Pay rates for all the lower steps on the pay scale for captains and first officers will all be adjusted upward in parallel by a minimum of 11.2 percent.
The new wage hike fulfills a commitment in last year’s Alaska contract with ALPA that management would raise pay as required to ensure that its most senior captains earned the average of their peers flying Boeing 737 MAXs and Airbus A321neos at United, American, Delta, Southwest and JetBlue.