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United Airlines and pilots union reach contractual agreement

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United Airlines Boeing 777ER. Plane for Leonardo da Vinci airport in Fiumicino.

Massimo Saturday | Mondadori Wallet | Getty Images

United Airlines and its pilots’ union have reached agreement on new contract terms, the first of the major carriers to strike a deal since the start of the Covid pandemic. The crisis has rocked the industry and exacerbated the pilot shortage and training backlog.

The Air Line Pilots Association and United did not disclose terms of the deal on Friday, but it will likely include higher wages and other improvements.

United has had perhaps the least contentious relationship with its union of major carrier pilots and struck early deals during the pandemic to keep airmen on staff and trained.

“United Airlines was the only airline to work with our pilots union to reach an agreement during COVID,” CEO Scott Kirby said in a LinkedIn post. “It’s no surprise that we are now the first airline to secure an agreement in principle for a new industry-leading pilot contract.”

The agreement still has to be voted on by the union and later by the pilots.

Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are still in negotiations with pilot unions, which have been picketing in recent months to protest grueling schedules.

United are not immune to the driver shortage. The Chicago-based airline, like other carriers, has had to cut routes and park planes due to a shortage of pilots who fly for the smaller regional carriers that feed its network.

At 1 p.m. ET on Friday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, will hold a hearing on the future aviation workforce, which will take place at the United Aviate Academy, United’s new flight school, in Goodyear , Arizona.

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