Today, the pilots of Horizon Air, represented by the Airline Professionals Association (APA) Teamsters Local 1224, voted 352-161 to ratify an agreement that will bring jet flying back to Horizon Air.
The vote closed just a week following Alaska Air Group’s announcement that it expects to place an order for 30 large regional jets in the first quarter of 2016. The contractual changes ratified in the agreement will not take effect until Horizon Air starts flying regional jets in revenue service. It is estimated the first revenue flight will be early 2017.
“The Horizon pilots have been in negotiations with the company to bring jet flying back to Horizon Air for some time,” said Local 1224 President Daniel C. Wells. “It has been the union’s position that jet flying is a good business decision for Horizon Air and enables the company to offer a better product to its customers. We are happy that we were able to work with the company to find solutions for growth that meet the needs of the pilots and the company alike.”
The newly ratified contract not only creates an avenue for Alaska Air Group (AAG) to grow its fleet, but also contains exclusive scope language for the 30 aircraft to be delivered. The agreement further maintains pilot pay rates, provides for pay increases throughout the life of the agreement and also provides for the implementation of a preferential bid system (PBS) with language that is the best in the regional industry and is on a par with that at major airlines. The union reports that it will immediately appoint a committee to research and select a PBS vendor.
“One notable provision of the agreement is that no current pilots will be furloughed during the fleet transition from an all turboprop to a mixed jet/turboprop fleet,” said Captain Jeff Cox, a Horizon Air pilot and chairman of the APA Teamsters Local 1224 Executive Council. “With these protections now intact, we can begin to refocus our efforts on the pilot shortage that exists in the industry. We look forward to working with AAG to guard against pilot attrition by also implementing mutually-beneficial solutions that will encourage pilots to stay and build a long-term career at Horizon.”
Horizon Air and the pilots began negotiations for an amended contract last April, completing the tentative agreement in December 2015. The agreement was presented to the airline’s pilots in a series of meetings which were held throughout the month of January. Voting closed earlier today, Jan. 29.