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Pilots working for American Airlines have voted to ratify a contract agreement with the airline, securing more than $9bn in additional value compared to its predecessor contract.

Members of the Allied Pilots Association (APA) voted 72.7% in favour of accepting the new 48-month contract that was first agreed between the union and the airline on 1 August.

The APA said the agreement was only the first step towards its goal.

APA president Capt. Ed Sicher said: “This contract is a big first step towards restoring the wages, benefits and work rules that were lost during the past two decades while our profession was under continuous assault. 

“As pilots, we hold a tremendous amount of responsibility with every flight we take. It’s a responsibility we take seriously, as evidenced by the US airline industry’s unrivalled safety record and it’s time for our profession to provide rewards commensurate with its unique demands.” 

The contract includes $1.1bn in immediate one-off payments and ratification bonuses, as well as an average 21% pay rise and a commitment to annual pay increases for the airline’s 15,000 pilots. 

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Enhancements have also been made to vacation benefits, reassignment pay, training pay, long-term disability benefits and life insurance benefits, along with increases in pilots’ 401(k) contributions. 

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom joined Sicher in celebrating the ratification of the agreement and thanked the APA president for his leadership, saying: “We’re grateful for the company and APA negotiating teams who worked diligently and collaboratively to reach an agreement we’re proud of and one our pilots deserve. 

“This agreement will help American immediately expand our pilot training capacity to support underutilised aircraft and future flying and provide our pilots with more opportunities to progress in their careers.” 

The ratification of the contract agreement comes a month after American reported a “record” second quarter for 2023 thanks to increased passenger demand and a nearly 5% revenue increase.