Air Wisconsin pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), are applauding a new agreement with an old partner, United Airlines, that will give their carrier new flying for five years or more.
The agreement, announced today by United President Scott Kirby and Air Wisconsin CEO Christine Deister, came as the Wisconsin-based carrier was nearing the end of its contract with American Airlines. With the uncertainty of American renewing its contract with Air Wisconsin when it expires in early 2018, the agreement with United gives the airline and its employees new hope and opportunity.
“We are excited to renew our long-term relationship as a United Express carrier. Air Wisconsin flew under United’s colors from the 1980s until 2006, so for many of us at the airline, today’s announcement feels like we’re coming home,” said Capt. Chris Suhs, chairman of ALPA’s Air Wisconsin group.
According to Air Wisconsin management, the United agreement includes a career pathway program that will give pilots a path to jobs at the larger carrier if they meet United’s hiring standards and other conditions.
Suhs is hopeful that the stability the new deal with United provides will help Air Wisconsin attract and retain pilots, as well as assist management and the union in finally coming to terms on a new pilot contract. The two sides have been in negotiations for more than six years.
“With the long-term future of the company now known and on solid ground, we look forward to working with management to bring pilots a new collective bargaining agreement so that we can move ahead together to provide an exemplary product for United Airlines,” Suhs said.