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United Airlines, pilots union reach contract agreement

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Boeing 777ER United Airlines. Aircraft to Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport.

Massimo Insabato | Mondadori Portfolio | Getty Images

United Airlines and its pilots’ labor union have reached an agreement on recent contract terms, the primary of the key carriers to strike a deal because the start of the Covid pandemic. The crisis roiled the industry and exacerbated a pilot shortage and training backlog.

The Air Line Pilots Association and United didn’t disclose the terms of the deal on Friday, but they’ll likely include higher pay and other improvements.

United has had perhaps the least contentious relationship with its pilots’ union of the key carriers and struck early deals through the pandemic to maintain aviators on staff and trained.

“United Airlines was the one airline to work with our pilots union to achieve an agreement during COVID,” CEO Scott Kirby said in a LinkedIn post. “It isn’t surprising that we are actually the primary airline to get an Agreement in Principle for an industry leading recent pilot contract.”

The agreement still faces a vote by the union and later, by pilots.

Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are still in negotiations with pilots unions, which have organized pickets in recent months to protest grueling schedules.

United is not resistant to the pilot shortage. The Chicago-based airline, like other carriers, has needed to reduce on routes and park planes due to a shortage of pilots who fly for the smaller regional carriers that feed its network.

On Friday at 1 p.m. ET, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., will hold a hearing on the longer term aviation workforce, which can happen on the United Aviate Academy, United’s recent flight school, in Goodyear, Arizona.

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