JetBlue Pilots Reject Deal For American Airlines Partnership

JetBluepilots pull out of the market to partner with American Airlines

Gary Leff at 16. February 2021.

JetBlue pilots have rejected a deal with the airline that would have allowed them to move forward with their new partnership with American Airllines.

JetBlue Airways Corp. pilots have voted against a tentative agreement that would have given the airline a contractual waiver to carry out its planned partnership with American Airlines Group Inc, their union said Tuesday.

This does not mean that the agreement is excluded, but its scope could likely be more limited, such as restricting the placement of the JetBlue code on American Airlines flights. JetBlue says they’re moving on,

We remain committed to our alliance with American Airlines and we expect both crew members and customers to benefit, said a JetBlue spokesperson.

The tentative agreement provided some relief from restrictions in the 2018 collective bargaining negotiations on the types of bonds JetBlue could accept in exchange for additional wage increases and greater job security, the union said.

JetBlue pilots have already taken the lead in the American-JetBlue alliance. There is a certain risk to American pilots.

  • As part of the agreement, JetBlue will use certain American Airlines slots at New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports. In other words, this means more flights for JetBluepilots.
  • If anyone should be unhappy, it’s the American Airlines pilots, but they are not contractually obligated to impose restrictions. (Pilots can always slow down an airline; they helped depose American’s last CEO, Tom Horton, and forced American to merge with US Airways.)
  • The challenge for American Airlines is to be able to sell international flights to JetBlue’s customers. In fact, they cannot power JetBlue and transfer passengers from international flights to New York JFK. New York JFK would not be an ideal location for connecting flights, terminal changes and feeding international traffic by Americans through other hubs.
  • American pilots could benefit from more international flights. But Americans seem less inclined to encourage domestic growth in New York with this deal. So the die is cast for American pilots, but things are looking particularly good for JetBlue pilots.

JetBlue and ALPA negotiated, but JetBlue pilots rejected the deal. The story spread so that somehow they were able to veto JetBlue to get a better deal, with better protection of their jobs during the uncertainty of Covid-19. From their point of view, it seems that they have a leverage that they have not yet fully exploited.

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The average salary for a JetBlue pilot is $174,874. JetBlue pilots’ salaries range from $73,733 to $433,424. This estimate is based on 12 JetBlue pilot paychecks provided by employees or estimated using statistical methods.

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