AirTran’s flight attendants agree to contract terms with Southwest

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This article was updated to include comments from Southwest Airlines, in the last six paragraphs.

The union that represents AirTran Airways' flight attendants has reached a tentative contract agreement with AirTran's parent company Southwest Airlines.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) said the agreement applies to more than 1,700 attendants who have remained at AirTran during the Southwest-AirTran merger, according to an AFA media statement.

"These negotiations have been difficult. Working in the limited timeframe left for AirTran, it became clear it was time to make some difficult decisions, and bring these negotiations to a close, allowing our members to determine the next step," says Alison Head, AFA's president for AirTran's flight attendants, in the statement.

AFA did not immediately respond to a request for more information about the agreement.

The contract became amendable in May, and union and airline have held contract discussions since February, according to a Southwest media release.

The agreement, which requires ratification by workers, "incorporates rewards and incentives for increased productivity and perfect attendance, while remaining mindful of AirTran's low cost structure", says Southwest's vice president of cabin services Mike Hafner in the release.

"This contract includes progressive concepts that are beneficial for AirTran flight attendants, while supporting company objectives," he adds.

The agreement will be a "bridge" that applies only to AirTran flight attendants who have not yet transitioned to Southwest, says the airline.

More than 400 former AirTran attendants have already transitioned.