US Airways’ pilots have narrowly voted to switch representation, in a landmark decision that will take the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) out of the negotiating seat and give it to the new US Airline Pilots Association, which will represent more than 5,200 pilots.

“Earlier this hour, the National Mediation Board (NMB) released results of the US Airways pilot union representation vote and the independent union – US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) - won the election by a 2,723 to 2,254 vote,” reveals US Airways management in a notice to employees.

The NMB told the unions and the company that it will certify the vote tomorrow.

This vote means that USAPA will now represent US Airways pilots, both the US Airways “East” side and the former America West Airlines “West” side. USAPA will “inherit” the contracts currently in place for East and West pilots.

A group of US Airways pilots formed the USAPA last fall and began collecting signatures to replace ALPA. The NMB authorized an election in February.

“The company’s position throughout this process has been that we’ll honor the union representation choices made by our employees,” says US Airways. It says its next step is to reach out to USAPA for talks toward a single agreement for our pilots, “just as we’ve reached single agreements with unions representing our reservations, airport customer service, maintenance employees, engineers and dispatchers (and tentative agreements for fleet service employees and maintenance instructors)”.

The company adds: “We want all of our represented employees to be working from the same contracts, with the same pay rates, work rules and benefits. It’s important to have us thinking and working as one company, and this continues to be an important goal of our merger.”