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American Airlines CEO vows to enhance pilot pay as wages at other carriers rise

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FILE – American Airlines President Robert Isom speaks at a news conference concerning the company’s recent partnership with Alaska Airlines, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Seattle. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker will retire next March and get replaced by the airline’s current president, Robert Isom.

Elaine Thompson | AP

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said this week that the corporate will revise its pay proposals for its 14,000 pilots, acknowledging pay standards have increased because the company made its most up-to-date offer before the pandemic.

The Fort Price, Texas-based airline had previously floated a 4% date-of-signing increase plus 3% annual raises after that. Then Covid-19 roiled the industry and put talks between carriers and labor unions throughout the industry on hold.

“It was industry-leading on the time we proposed it,” Isom said in a video message to pilots posted Monday, which CNBC reviewed. “Because the pandemic wanes, the usual for compensation has gone up.”

Isom’s message got here days after two of American’s subsidiaries, regional carriers Piedmont and Envoy, prolonged big raises to its pilots, including a brief 50% pay hike through the top of August 2024, in hopes of easing a pilot shortage that has curbed growth plans.

United Airlines last month became the primary major carrier within the pandemic to succeed in a contract take care of its pilots’ union, the Air Line Pilots Association. Union leadership is about to vote on that agreement next week. If passed, it should go to pilots for a vote.

“We are going to take other carriers’ ratified agreements, including United’s, into consideration and update our pay proposals quickly when details are known,” Isom said. “Our team might be paid well and be paid competitively. You are usually not going to fall behind network peers.”

American’s pilots and people at other carriers, including Delta’s, have picketed in recent months to protest the grueling schedules airlines have sold to capitalize on the rebound in travel demand.

Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, American’s pilots’ union, said the corporate has to do greater than raise wages.

“There is no such thing as a work-life balance,” he said.

Without providing details, Isom said American’s recent proposal will include higher advantages and quality-of-life provisions.

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