It’s Time to Level the Playing Field
DENVER, Colo.—Frontier Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), warned airline CEOs at a major industry conference in Denver today that their airline’s bottom-of-the-industry pay rates create an unfair playing field for competing carriers.
“Every airline CEO should be asking why Frontier CEO Barry Biffle gets to take advantage of such an uneven playing field,” said Capt. Tracy Smith, chairman of the Frontier Airlines unit of ALPA. “Every one of Frontier’s industry peers, including Spirit and JetBlue, has increased their pilot pay to reflect current market conditions. However, Frontier currently pays over 50 percent less, because our contract was negotiated while in bankruptcy 11 years ago.”
About 40 Frontier pilots held an informational picket outside the Boyd Group’s International Aviation Forecast Summit to tell airline CEOs and other attendees that their companies are at a substantial competitive disadvantage to Frontier for as long as the carrier refuses to pay industry-standard wages.
“Frontier management claims they want to negotiate a contract that is ‘fair’ and ‘sustainable,’ but there is nothing fair about operating with more than 50 percent lower labor costs. In order to execute its aggressive growth plan, Frontier must attract and retain qualified pilots, and that’s not easy to do with an unsustainable operation where management cancels vacations, threatens disciplinary actions toward pilots for failing to fly more hours, and threatens to discipline pilots from taking approved sick leave,” Smith said.
ALPA recently sued the airline in federal court for bad-faith bargaining and has asked the National Mediation Board to declare an impasse and start the 30-day clock that could potentially lead to a strike. The last major pilot strike occurred at Spirit Airlines in 2010—when Spirit was owned by the same private equity group that now owns Frontier. Frontier’s more than 1,200 pilots have been in contract negotiations since March 2016.
“Right now, there is no better time to be a pilot. The question is ‘how can Frontier attract qualified new hires when they can choose other airlines that offer substantially better pay?’ If Frontier wants to execute its hyper-aggressive growth plan, management will need to provide the market-rate contract our pilots deserve,” Smith said.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents more than 60,000 pilots at 34 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at alpa.org or follow the Frontier pilots on Twitter (@F9ALPA), Facebook (@FrontierPilots), and Instagram (@FrontierPilots). More information about the Frontier pilots’ fight for a fair, market-rate contract is available at frontierbadbargain.com.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or Media@alpa.org