Southwest, AirTran pilots reach deal on seniority integration

Southwest Airlines late Saturday evening said that the unions representing pilots of Southweset and AirTran Airways have agreed on how they will combine the seniority lists of the two carriers.

The announcement doesn’t spell out how the agreement would merge the two seniority lists. The agreement in principle must be approved by the union’s boards and then their members.

“The unions and company negotiating teams have accomplished a task that is rare in this industry, developing an integrated seniority list and transition plan for our pilots outside of arbitration,” said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest executive vice president and chief operating officer. “It’s just another example of our people taking ownership in the integration of Airtran into Southwest Airlines, and that’s our culture.”

“We are proud of both groups’ initiative to take a remarkably difficult task and produce something fair and equitable for both sides,” said Chuck Magill, Southwest’s vice president of flight operations. “Our pilots have demonstrated exceptional leadership through their dedication to this process and their commitment to the integration.”

UPDATE: SWAPA spokesman Neal Hanks offered this comment Sunday afternoon:

“We’re excited to have this agreement in principle, but there is still much work to be done before this deal is official. Over the next few weeks, both sides will turn these agreed-to concepts into a full-language document which will then be presented to the boards at both SWAPA and AirTran ALPA. If the boards both approve of the deal, it’ll go out to both memberships for a vote in the coming months.”

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