Is Southwest Airlines/AirTran Pilot Seniority Deal in Trouble?


No surprise that last week Southwest Airlines touted the fact that its pilots and the pilots at AirTran had already negotiated a seniority agreement as part of the airline’s merger process during its quarterly earnings call.

Given the dysfunctional situation that continues with the pilot group at US Airways, after America West acquired US Airways, and the ongoing difficult talks going on with the pilot groups of both United and Continental as they try and hash out a contract and seniority agreement, the airline had a reason to be happy.

And, as best as we could tell, after a bit of initial squawking, it did appear that the pilot group at Southwest was probably onboard with the deal, as we talked about last week in PlaneBusiness Banter.

The problem is — the AIrTran ALPA MEC was supposed to meet and give its “thumbs-up” to the deal and then push it out to members for a vote. Two weeks ago. Then it was last week. Then it was supposed to be this week.

No meeting.

Today, the AirTran MEC notified their counterparts in Dallas that the meeting of the MEC to discuss the deal has been postponed “INDEFINITELY.”

The official SWAPA correspondence is included here.

Update from your Executive Team

Two weeks ago, your board of directors reviewed the contents of Side Letter 9 and voted unanimously to send it to the membership for ratification. Since that time we have been waiting for the AirTran MEC to administer their meeting and decide if their membership will be voting with ours on the agreement. Meetings on their end, which were originally to coincide with ours, have been pushed back multiple times. They were scheduled to meet this week, Wednesday through Friday, to finally make a decision at their board level on the merits of this agreement. This afternoon, however, SWAPA was notified by ATN-ALPA via email that they have postponed their scheduled meeting indefinitely.

We have given you outlines of what this deal entails for you with the final language. A much broader education plan is in the works, if this deal is approved by their MEC. We know many of you are waiting (with continued patience) for further explanation and data, but we must still hold off until a decision on their end is made. In the meantime, SWAPA will continue preparations for arbitration.

We will update you as often and as thoroughly as possible as things progress. These delays don’t help either pilot group or the Company. “