Are you ready for a 19% increase in Hawaii airfares? That’s the possibility we are looking at according to Airlines for America. It comes after the new 48-month pilot agreement just ratified at Hawaiian Airlines that features industry record-setting pay raises and more for their 1,000 pilots. Included is a 32.9% pay increase over the contract duration. We can’t say where this will end, but obviously, 33% raises have to be paid by someone, and that someone is all of us who buy airline tickets.
Union head Larry Payne, a pilot at Hawaiian, said, “We believe this industry-standard agreement represents a monumental step forward in terms of overall compensation and quality of life gains.”
The agreement is set to go into effect next month, with the pilots of larger A330 widebody planes generally earning more. Pay is also based on experience. Other benefits are included.
We reported on this last month, including that “Hawaiian Airlines pilots earn on average from $227/hour to $337 per hour depending on seniority and aircraft type.” So following this agreement, pilots will earn from $302 to $448 per hour, over the next four years.
Hawaiian Airlines/Amazon freighter pilots also rise to the top.
The pilots associated with Hawaiian’s soon-to-be commenced air cargo deal will also earn more than comparable pilots at either FedEx or UPS. That Hawaiian Airlines crew will operate a separate fleet of A330 widebody planes for Amazon.
Why is this deal so crucial to Hawaiian Airlines and the entire industry?
This news comes following the announcement that Delta pilots have also reached a tentative agreement featuring a huge pay increase. And just after Southwest pilots warned of a potential strike there with big consequences.
Southwest’s huge pilot troubles are up next.
The SW pilots union said, “Systemwide meltdowns at Southwest Airlines have been increasing in frequency and magnitude over the past 15 years…Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Southwest has a history of repetition. Unfortunately, despite many opportunities, Southwest airlines management did not listen to its pilots and frontline employees.”
Last month, Southwest Airlines pilots announced they are seeking a strike vote authorization to deal with long-failed contract negotiations. That voting is set to begin on May 1, and, for now, at least, the situation appears to be highly contentious.
Southwest pilots dire warning to customers.
Last month the pilots’ union said they want to “Give our customers time to book elsewhere so that they may have confidence in their summer vacations, honeymoons, and family outings.”
Contract comes at a critical time as airlines struggle to keep qualified pilots.
Like Hawaiian, Delta Airlines has been ironing out a similar contract with its pilots, and a tentative agreement has been reached. It includes a 34% pay increase, not unlike Hawaiian’s. These are in line with what’s also happening at American and United Airlines.
Recently, UAL CEO Scott Kirby said that it might be hard for airlines to fly their planned operations this year, largely due to a shortage of pilots. “For a host of reasons, we believe the industry capacity aspirations for 2023 and beyond are simply unachievable.”
It isn’t clear how such a significant pay increase will help Hawaiian in its efforts, but undoubtedly that’s a significant part of the company’s thinking.
The pilots appear to have their employers over a barrel.
The Delta union said simply of their proposed contract, “There are no concessions in this agreement.”
For the airlines, choices come down to creating greater operational efficiencies, applying cost-cutting or service-reducing measures, or continued ticket price increases. Passing it along to passengers is problematic as it comes at a time of financial pressure that has the potential to impact Hawaii’s leisure travel market significantly.