Alaska pilots approve five-year contract

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Pilots at Alaska Airlines have approved a new five-year contract that increases pay by nearly 20% over the life of the contract and contains work rule and job security improvements.

The contract, which also protects pilots' retirement and insurance benefits, was approved by 67% of Alaska Air's pilots who cast ballots, according to the Seattle-based airline.

The pilots, members of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) and management now begin implementing the new agreement and are preparing to discuss new flight-time and duty-time rules that take effect 4 January 2014, says Alaska.

The airline notes in a media statement that the parties reached an agreement on the terms of the new contract roughly one month after the 1 April amendable date of the last contract.

The pilots and the airline began negotiations in summer 2012 and reached a tentative agreement in June.

"The pilots and management both approached these negotiations with the mindset that they wanted to change the paradigm of protracted negotiations," says Chris Notaro, chairman of ALPA's Alaska Airlines master executive council. "The fact that we were able to reach an agreement in a timely manner is a product of a mutual commitment to find terms that would work for both the pilots and the company."

Alaska's vice president of flight operations Gary Beck calls the contract "a great tribute to the negotiators for ALPA and the company".

"They worked well together on an agreement that positions Alaska for continued growth and success and provides significant improvements for our pilots, who ensure the safety of our customers and employees every day," says Beck.