Allegiant Air Pilots Ratify New Contract

July 29, 2016

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Allegiant Air said its pilots ratified a new five-year contract, ending protracted talks at the Las Vegas-based budget carrier at a time the US airline industry is grappling with a shortage of pilots.

The contract, effective Monday, offers pilots a pay increase of up to 31 percent, paid vacation of up to four weeks, an improved scheduling system and an increase in the company's 401(k) contributions.

More than 86 percent of the votes from pilots supported the contract, the airline said.

Allegiant Air, owned by Allegiant Travel, had 625 full-time pilots at the end of 2015.

The US airline industry has been facing a pilot shortage after the FAA ruled in 2013 that co-pilots must train for a minimum of 1,500 hours to qualify to fly a passenger or cargo plane.

The previous requirement was 250 hours.

This has significantly pushed up the cost of training for aspiring pilots at a time of slow salary growth.

Regional carrier Republic Airways filed for bankruptcy in February, blaming several quarters of falling revenue after having to ground aircraft amid a pilot shortage.

Allegiant Air had been in unsuccessful talks with its pilots for years.

The pilots had accused the airline of failing to abide by a 2014 federal court injunction directing it to restore their benefits and work-rule protections to levels negotiated earlier.

Last year, the pilots even threatened to go on a strike but a US court blocked them from taking action.

United Airlines pilots voted in January to approve a two-year contract extension, paving the way for a 22 percent wage increase by 2018.

(Reuters)