The Endeavor Air Master Executive Council and Negotiating Committee conduct a road show in Detroit, Mich., to discuss the tentative agreement with the pilots prior to the ratification ballot.
In late November 2017, the Endeavor Air pilots overwhelmingly ratified an unmatched contract modification and extension deal that resulted from one year of interim negotiations. Of the pilots who voted, 86 percent voted in favor of the agreement, which took effect January 1 and extends the existing contract through Jan. 1, 2024.
“This agreement is the culmination of a strategic initiative to take advantage of a positive bargaining cycle,” said Capt. Jim Johnson, the pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) chairman. The new wage rates—unprecedented in the fee-for-departure industry—convert what were temporary retention bonuses into permanent wage scales that greatly exceed industry-average rates.
“Under this agreement, our first officers will see hourly rates 40 to 50 percent above industry average, and the majority of our captain wage rates will be 20 to 25 percent above industry average,” noted Johnson. The conversion of temporary retention bonuses into permanent wage scales sets a new bar for 50- to 76-seat jet operators. Putting the retention dollars into the wage scales increases eligible 401(k) deferrals; ensures that sick, vacation, and training are paid at the higher rate; and greatly increases the W-2 earnings of pilots who pick up open time, since all open time is paid at a premium of at least 150 percent.
The agreement doesn’t stop at wages. It also includes dramatically improved 401(k) company-matching contributions and per diem, sick accrual, and reserve quality-of-life improvements, including 12 days off per month and the restoration of long-call reserve.
“Given that we’re currently experiencing the most favorable financial environment the airlines have ever seen, we wanted to cement favorable terms in our contract now. If there’s a downturn, negotiating this type of deal would become much more challenging,” Johnson said.
While Endeavor Air continues to fill its new-hire classes with 45–60 pilots per month, the new deal limits management’s ability to offer additional bonuses to new hires. The new-hire bonus may be increased by $10,000, but beyond that, the pilots must consent to any change. “It was important to retain contractual control over new hire bonuses, because we must ensure that any future increases include gains for our existing pilots as well,” observed Johnson. “We couldn’t do that without a contract provision like the one we achieved.”
In addition, a separate letter of agreement (LOA)—the “Bridge Agreement,” which was signed by Delta Air Lines and Endeavor—increases the fleet commitment to 109 76-seat aircraft (up from 81) and extends the fleet commitment by two years following the amendable date to Jan. 1, 2026.
In 2017, the MEC also reopened its pilot base in Atlanta, Ga., and began transitioning pilots to accommodate delivery of 31 CRJ700s and -900s by June 2018, bringing Endeavor’s total fleet to 154 aircraft by summer.
The MEC has negotiated and ratified 60 LOAs that cover a wide variety of initiatives to increase pay and improve quality of life since the airline exited bankruptcy in 2013, and the MEC will continue to focus on additional initiatives in 2018 that will benefit the pilots, including ones pertaining to career progression. Although Endeavor Air pilots have a guaranteed interview program with Delta, the MEC is advocating for a more robust and contractual program for career progression.
“While Delta commits that it won’t offer career progression at any carrier that is more favorable than the terms at Endeavor, we’ll still continue to advocate for a guaranteed and contractual pathway to a career at Delta for all of our pilots,” Johnson said.