JetBlue pilots give notice to carrier to open contract negotiations

The union representing 5,000 JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) pilots gave the airline notice of their intent to open contract negotiations now that the merger with Spirit Airlines (SAVE) has been scuttled.

The notice stating the “intent to open negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement pursuant to Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act” officially begins the process under the RLA for negotiating a new CBA.

Last month, the pilot’s union agreed to an extension that would enable them to negotiate a standalone contract separate from a potential JetBlue/Spirit merger.

“JetBlue pilots put our full contract on hold while the Company pursued the merger. We now expect the Company to come to the bargaining table prepared to negotiate terms on pay and working conditions in line with the industry,” said Justin Houck, head of the JetBlue union executive council.

Last year, JetBlue (JBLU) pilots negotiated a short-term contract with the carrier to keep pay in line with market compensation rates in the event of a lengthy merger process with Spirit (SAVE). While an expensive merger has been scrubbed, negotiations for higher pay might be problematic given management’s commitment to cutting costs and returning the airline to profitability.

Last month, JetBlue (JBLU) eliminated unprofitable routes to focus on “bread and butter” routes along the East Coast and Caribbean, and announced plans to defer $2.5B in capital expenditures planned for 2024-2027 to 2028 and later.

And to shrink its workforce, especially after the aborted merger with Spirit (SAVE) and terminated partnership with American Airlines (AAL), CEO Joanna Geraghty said the carrier would offer voluntary buyouts to corporate, customer service, and airport positions.

William Murphy

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