Aviation News

April 16, 2011

Southwest and AirTran Pilots to Start Seniority Integration Talks

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By: BNO News
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Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways pilots‘ respective unions, as well as both airline companies on Thursday signed a four-party process agreement that provides for the two pilot groups to begin their seniority integration discussions prior to legal closing of the AirTran acquisition on behalf of Southwest.

Southwest Airlines 737 landing at LaGuardia Airport

The agreement also outlines provisions of an implementation schedule in the event an agreement is reached on an integrated seniority list (ISL).

The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) and the Air Line Pilots’ Association (ALPA) can now begin the work of integrating seniority lists in accordance with the McCaskill-Bond Act.

This new Four-Party Process Agreement also creates a timeline for SWAPA and ALPA to reach an ISL agreement, but if an agreement is not reached during this timeframe, the matter will be sent to arbitration and a new implementation process will have to be negotiated.

“This is yet another important step in the overall process of bringing these two great carriers together,” said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “I applaud both sides for signing this important agreement that lays the groundwork for bringing together these two hard working Pilot groups.”

Southwest anticipates closing on its acquisition of AirTran Airways, which is estimated to be worth $1.4 billion, in the second quarter of the year. The acquisition was approved late last month.

Both companies had previously announced that they would continue to operate as two independent companies until the transaction is cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice.