American Airlines and United Airline pilot contracts: comparing the two deals

American Airlines pilots are taking another look after United Airlines pilots revealed the terms of their new deal
Bradley Caslin /

After United Airlines and its pilots, represented by the United Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), agreed to a new labor agreement, American Airlines’ pilots are now doubting their tentative agreement (TA).  

According to a report by Reuters, citing an internal memo sent to Allied Pilots Association (APA) members, the TA with American Airlines is now in jeopardy due to United Airlines’ new deal with its pilots. 

The APA stated in the memo that American Airlines management could not “expect our pilots to accept an agreement that puts us behind our contemporaries at other airlines for at least the next four years”.  

Summarizing its own deal with American Airlines, APA’s executive summary of the TA said that it “includes several industry-leading compensation, benefits, and work-rule provisions”. Furthermore, other airlines’ labor agreements and “real-time industry bargaining developments were influential in our own negotiations”. 

APA continued that if ratified the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) would add $8.3 billion in value over its 48-month validity period, beginning with $1 billion of one-time payments and ratification bonuses. At the end of the CBA, the “pilot value will be 47% higher than it would have been on the same date” under the previous agreement with American Airlines. 

United pilots earning more 

Meanwhile, United Airlines’ new CBA will result in around $10 billion in added value for the duration of the contract, according to the union’s MEC. 

“Items included in the comprehensive and robust package are improvements to critical aspects such as quality of work-life, compensation, job security, work rules, retirement, benefits, and more,” United Airlines MEC of ALPA said in a statement on July 15, 2023. 

Comparing the pilots per block hour pay rate offered by both airlines, United Airlines captains flying the Boeing 787 would earn $386.95 on the day of signing. First officers on the same aircraft would be paid $109.42 per block hour. 

American Airlines’ captains, flying the same Boeing 787, would earn $383.12 per block hour, while first officers would earn $108.34 per block hour. 

For flying the smallest aircraft, a Mitsubishi CRJ900, United Airlines captains would get paid $199.74 per block hour, while the pay rate for a first officers would be $109.42. American Airlines’ TA sets the hourly block rate for the same aircraft at $197.76 and $108.34 for captains and first officers, respectively. 

“These pay rates will increase by 1% immediately after Delta exercises their Snap Up provision,” noted the United Airlines contract executive summary. Subsequently, the salaries would grow by 1%. Furthermore, if Delta Air Lines’ snap up is triggered by an American Airlines’ agreement, “United Pilots receive the same increase,” the summary continued.  

United Airlines and the MEC of ALPA reached an Agreement in Principle (AIP) on July 15, 2023. It is still pending final ratification by the union, as now, the executive council will determine whether the AIP becomes a TA. It would then need to be voted on by union members. 

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