SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 14: The U.S. fifth largest airline Alaska Airlines announced Wednesday a merger agreement with Virgin America and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) for the airline’s 5,400 flight stewards.
The merger accord offers competitive pay raises, increase in retirement contributions and quality of life benefits, which will preserve all productivity of Alaska Airlines’ existing contract, the company said in a statement.
The tentative merger agreement marks a major milestone in integrating Virgin America and Alaska Airlines flight attendants.
Virgin America flight attendants joined the AFA in April 2017, after the Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America in 2016, a merger close to completion now.
“We’re thrilled to have reached this major milestone towards integrating our flight attendant work groups,” said Jeff Butler, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of guest and inflight services.
He said the agreement will support the company’s long-term low cost, low fares business philosophy.
Flight attendants of Alaska Airlines will conduct a ratification vote expected to be completed in April.
Alaska Airlines said it will push for next-step work that includes combining seniority lists, cross training on Boeing and Airbus aeroplanes, as well as integration of crew scheduling systems, which will be completed in 2019.
The existing five-year contract, which was approved by the airlines’ employees in 2014, becomes amendable in December 2019. Alaska Airlines will begin negotiations with the AFA for its first joint labor agreement later this year.
Alaska Airlines, together with Virgin America and its regional partners, flies 44 million guests a year to more than 115 destinations with an average of 1,200 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica.
The company that is based in Seattle, the largest city in Washington state on the U.S. west coast, operates its largest hub at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a primary commercial airport about 21 km south of downtown Seattle.