Pilot Union Leaders and American Airlines Agree on New Tentative Contract with 23 Percent Retroactive Pay Hike

In a move that could assure that a lucrative career as an airline pilot will be available for decades to come, union leaders representing American Airlines pilots approved the carrier’s final contract offer recently, paving the way for a retroactive 23 percent wage hike if its members approve the contract in a vote later this month.

“We are pleased our pilots will have a chance to vote on a contract that provides an immediate 23 percent pay increase and recognizes their contributions at American,” company spokesman Casey Norton said in an emailed statement.

The company said last month that the contract on the table was its final offer.

In the event that American’s pilots reject the contract their leaders have already accepted, the next step will be to move to binding arbitration in February, which would certainly result in wage increases smaller than what the company has offered.

In a letter to American Airline employees sent last Friday, Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said “very strong” results for 2014 would allow the carrier to lock in substantial wage hikes for its work groups once their respective contracts are ratified. The company had set Jan. 3 as an early deadline for APA, saying pilots would not receive raises retroactive to Dec. 2 had APA’s board not approved the contract in time. But American said its pilots would be paid, on average, 7 percent more than Delta Air Lines pilots, if the contract is approved on time.