Release #08.047
September 24, 2008

Pilots from United, Continental Form Strategic Alliance

WASHINGTON—In response to the announced corporate alliance of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, the pilots of both carriers, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), have formed their own strategic alliance in order to protect and enhance the careers of their respective pilot groups.

The alliance is led by each pilot group’s Master Chairman, along with each group’s Negotiating, Communications, and Strike Preparedness Committees. A joint meeting of the groups was held at the ALPA headquarters in Herndon, Va., earlier this month.

“We want to ensure that the proposed United/Continental alliance not only is profitable for the two companies, but that the pilots of both of our airlines will be able to share the benefits this business arrangement will provide,” said Captain Jay Pierce, chairman of the Continental Master Executive Council.

Captain Steve Wallach, chairman of the United Master Executive Council, added, “The similarities between our two pilot groups far outweigh any differences that may exist,” he said. “It would be wise for management at our respective airlines to recognize that we will not allow this alliance between our two companies as an opportunity for our respective managements to whipsaw our pilot groups against one another. We will continue to coordinate our efforts in the areas of negotiations and strategic preparedness.”

After attempts earlier this year to consummate a merger between United and Continental failed, the two companies subsequently announced a plan to create a strategic alliance.

A domestic UAL/CAL code share arrangement and Continental’s pending shift from SkyTeam to the Star Alliance present a unique opportunity for both pilot groups to create synergies during contract negotiations. Continental’s pilots are in the midst of contract talks for a new labor agreement that becomes amendable on December 31, 2008. The amendable date for United’s pilots is December 31, 2009.

“The value of bringing together our two pilot groups to share common strategies while the two airlines create their alliance cannot be underestimated,” said Captain Pierce. Captain Wallach added, “We want to make it clear to our respective company executives that even a ‘virtual merger’ such as their alliance represents will require the cooperation of the pilots from both airlines to be successful.”

The Houston-based Continental Master Executive Council (MEC), which represents 5,000 pilots and the Chicago-based United MEC, which represents 7,800 pilots, are part of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), which represents nearly 53,000 pilots at 37 airlines in the United States and Canada.

ALPA Contacts:   
Dave Kelly Amy Flanagan
847/292-1708   281/925-4601