Southwest, Pilots Won’t Reopen Pending Contract After Delta Deal

Southwest Airlines Co. and the union for its pilots won’t restart talks over pay provisions in a pending contract even though Delta Air Lines Inc. aviators secured more generous terms, the labor group said.

Southwest Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly and union leaders failed to agree on any of the items the employees wanted to address, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said in an e-mailed statement to members Wednesday. Voting on the contract began Oct. 8 and will end Nov. 7.

The decision may allay concerns among investors about Southwest’s rising labor costs while potentially ratcheting up tension between the carrier and its pilots. The union said it had succeeded in securing industry-leading pay rates before the Delta agreement was announced Sept. 30. The airline has also reached a tentative agreement with flight attendants and still is in talks with mechanics.

Jon Weaks, union president and a Southwest captain, said he would vote in favor of the deal “because of the value and improvements” it offers. Southwest didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pay for Southwest pilots would increase 29.4 percent compounded over the term of the four-year tentative accord, while their counterparts at Delta would get a cumulative 30.2 percent raise during the same time period under their Sept. 30 agreement in principle, according to the Southwest union. The pending contracts are subject to approval by pilots at each carrier.

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