United Airlines Pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), has publicly called out the airline following its sponsorship deal with fourth-tier Welsh club Wrexham AFC.
A statement by United Airlines Pilots on Twitter read: “You’ve got a Captain. Your club was Promoted. But it’s #UnitedPilots declining Captain upgrades that are holding United [Airlines] back from achieving its goals!”
The airline’s pilots picketed as recently as April 2023, highlighting that the negotiations between the union and the carrier have continued to drag on. “During today’s earnings call, the Company reiterated that it incurred the estimated cost of a new pilot contract during the first quarter, even as negotiations continue to drag out,” read the union’s statement on April 19, 2023, with the United ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC) chair Captain Garth Thompson adding that there was no such agreement in Q1 2023.
“We are ready and waiting for management,” added Thompson.
According to the union, the most pressing issues relate to an outdated scheduling system, compensation and retirement benefits that are subpar compared to other airlines’ packages, management’s unwillingness to recognize pilots’ sacrifices made during the pandemic, and actions that directly counteracts management statements that the two sides can reach an agreement within two weeks.
“Our contract is so outdated that hundreds of captain positions [which] has always been the envy of the airline industry, are going unfilled because pilots prioritize transparency in schedules and time with their families more than anything else,” concluded Thompson in April 2023.
In an update on June 3, 2023, Thompson reiterated that United Airlines’ executives have a choice between “disregarding the sacrifices and contributions made by our pilot group, or add[ing] our UPA to the long list of other investments related to ‘United Next’ strategy”.
On June 8, 2023, United Airlines and Welsh football club Wrexham AFC announced a sponsorship deal, with the United States (US)-based airline becoming the official front-of-shirt sponsor for the 2023/2024 season.
Wrexham AFC, which was recently promoted to the fourth tier in the English football pyramid, will travel to the US on United Airlines flights during their American tour in the summer. The airline’s loyalty program members “will have special access to Wrexham AFC matches in the U.S. and in Wales through its MileagePlus Exclusives platform and United is working with the club on additional ways to support the local community from a philanthropic perspective,” the announcement read.