Frontier Pilots Enter Second Year of Mediation as Contract Talks Drag On

Release #: FFT 17.07

DENVER—More than 1,100 Frontier Airlines pilots observed an unfortunate anniversary last week as the pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), entered their second year of federal mediation without a new contract.

On October 4, 2016, the National Mediation Board (NMB) approved a request from ALPA and Frontier management to assign them a federal mediator to help jump-start their stalled contract talks. But after a year of work with the NMB, the two sides are still far apart on economic issues.

“We entered mediation a year ago with the hope that reaching an agreement quickly on a market-rate contract would be a benefit for both the pilots as well as the company,” said Capt. Tracy Smith, chairman of ALPA’s Frontier Master Executive Council. “Instead, management initially tried to bargain for contract concessions that were completely out of touch with our airline’s financial realities and the market for professional pilots.”

Even though Frontier is making double-digit profits and is one of the most financially successful airlines in the country, its pilots are the lowest paid in North America, earning an average of 40 percent less than their peers who fly the same airliners at other carriers.

Since the Frontier pilots began contract negotiations in March 2016, they have dropped further behind their peers as pilots at other carriers have seen substantial pay increases:

  • American Airlines, without any obligation to do so, unilaterally increased pilot pay by 8% and instituted profit sharing of 5% of pretax profits. Frontier pilots have no profit sharing.
  • The new Delta Air Lines pilot contract raised pilot pay by 30% cumulatively by 2019, and Delta pilots received approximately 18% of compensation for 2016 profit sharing.
  • United Airlines added a 13% pay increase to a 3% increase provided by the then-existing contract for pilots, and added 4.42% more pay to match the increases resulting from the new Delta pilot contract.
  • Southwest Airlines agreed to raise pilot pay by 30% by 2020, made large retroactive payments to cover the delay in reaching agreement, and provided additional profit sharing of approximately 13% of pay.
  • Hawaiian Airlines pilots added contract improvements worth over 40%.

In September, frustrated Frontier pilots voted 100 percent to authorize their leaders to call a strike if the NMB releases them from mediation and they complete a 30-day cooling off period.

“October marks a sad anniversary for our group,” Smith said. “If management continues to refuse to bring our pilots into the same economic mainstream as our peers, we will have no alternative but assume we are at an impasse and ask the NMB to release us from mediation—and start the countdown for a pilot strike.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 57,000 pilots at 33 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.


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