American Airlines offers flight attendants 17% raises as contract talks drag on


American Airlines flight attendants demonstrate outside the White House in Washington, May 9, 2024.

Drew Angerer | AFP | Getty Images

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom offered flight attendants immediate 17% wage increases on Wednesday as contract talks continue without a deal, bringing the prospect of a strike closer.

The airline and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants have struggled to reach a new contract agreement, differing on major issues, such as pay. Flight attendants haven’t received contract raises since before the pandemic.

“We have made progress in a number of key areas, but there is still a good deal of work to be done,” Isom said in a video message to flight attendants.

The union said the two sides are scheduled to meet with federal mediators next week for a “last-ditch” effort to get a deal done, adding that flight attendants were told to prepare for a strike.

Strikes are extremely rare among airline employees. The last took place in 2010 among Spirit Airlines pilots. If the two parties can’t reach a deal, a release by federal mediators would be triggered, a process that would take several weeks.

“So, to get you more money now, we presented APFA with a proposal that offers immediate wage increases of 17% and a new formula that would increase your profit sharing,” Isom said Wednesday. “This means we’ve offered increased pay for all flight attendants and are not asking your union for anything in return. This is unusual, but these are unusual times.”

APFA’s board will discuss the proposal later on Wednesday, according to Julie Hedrick, the union’s national president. She added that the airline’s focus should be on preparing a longer-term deal with the flight attendants.

“This is not that,” she said.

Also on Wednesday, the union said it opened a “strike command center” with dedicated phone lines and other resources to answer cabin crew questions.

U.S. airline pilots largely locked in new labor deals last year, while flight attendants at American, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines are still negotiating.

Last month, a bipartisan group of more than 160 House representatives wrote to the National Mediation Board, urging it to help complete deals with airlines and flight attendants.

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