Now They Get the Picture

By Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA President

ALPA’s 13th annual photography issue captures airline pilots’ passion for flight from many vantage points. However, ALPA’s more than 77,000 pilots share a single view of how our union achieves its members’ goals: our solidarity.

When I took office in January, our administration pledged to emphasize bargaining superior contracts for all ALPA pilots as well as helping pilot groups share their bargaining experiences to advance a strong bargaining pattern and raise the bar for all airline pilots.

Less than a year later, a heightened focus and resources have made all the difference. We’ve achieved historic pay, retirement, quality-of-life, and job security improvements for pilots at Air Wisconsin, Calm Air, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Perimeter/Bearskin, Spirit, United, and WestJet.

For pilot groups in bargaining, we’re concentrating on how we can get contracts done and not on the reasons we can’t. We’ve rebuilt ALPA’s Strategic Planning and Strategic Preparedness and Strike Committees to support every pilot group with the full weight of our union. At the recent Negotiations Training Seminar, ALPA committee members shared with new pilots the lessons learned over the union’s nine decades of bargaining.

We’re also improving how our pilot groups in negotiations communicate with each other. At ALPA’s fee-for-departure and large-jet bargaining roundtables, pilot groups detailed their latest strategies to advance stronger pattern bargaining as well as the snap-up and market rate adjustment provisions that ensure pilot groups that complete a deal aren’t left behind.

At the same time, ALPA is targeting assistance to pilot groups that are fighting intransigent managements unwilling to respect the contracts they’ve signed. For the first time in our union’s history, we’ve created a national Grievance Committee.

At these events and others, new ALPA pilots provide their perspectives while our union’s efforts gain from the experience of members like the Hawaiian Airlines pilots, who just celebrated 75 years of ALPA representation.

Thanks to the ground we’ve gained, our union is clawing back some of the bankruptcy-era concessions our pilots made and narrowing the pay-rate differential among airlines. In addition, the regional airline industry now recognizes pilots’ value and is offering signing bonuses and more competitive compensation. In the past year, ALPA’s success in expanding the benefits of a union-negotiated contract has helped pilots throughout the industry.

Importantly, ALPA contracts are also advancing the profession by working to counter broader antilabor efforts that threaten every airline pilot around the globe. For example, we saw in the safe outcome of a near-miss at Austin, Tex., how having at least two pilots working on the flight deck protects passengers, crews, and cargo every day and night.

In this context, ALPA is pulling every lever to block efforts by manufacturers and some foreign airlines to pull one of the two pilots who currently work on the flight deck. We’ve negotiated minimum crew-complement language in pilot contracts with Alaska, Amerijet, Delta, Hawaiian, Jazz, JetBlue, PAL Airlines, and United. We’ve also conducted news media interviews with leading journalists and promoted our position through paid advertising and social media.

At least one foreign airline has scheduled deliveries in 2026 for aircraft that will be equipped to potentially support a reduced-crew complement, known as extended minimum crew operations, on the flight deck pending certification. Should a regulator certify this aircraft for reduced-crew operations, this could create pressure on the International Civil Aviation Organization to expedite and issue standards and recommended practices. Other airlines and regulators will almost surely follow. In response, ALPA continues to be fully engaged and working with the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations and the European Cockpit Association to combat this threat to aviation safety.

We’ve also made our position clear in Washington. We appreciate the Department of Transportation’s pledge that FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker would support maintaining at least two pilots on every airliner flight deck as well as protect current first officer qualification, experience, and training requirements.

Even as FAA data continues to show that U.S. pilot production is shattering records, those who seek to weaken and evade pilot qualification and training requirements won’t give up. As Congress revisits the FAA reauthorization before its expiration at the end of the year, ALPA pilots will fight to the end against any effort to put profit before safety.

Because of the professionalism that we demand of ourselves and each other and the pilots who volunteer to serve our union, including ALPA’s Executive Board members, governments and airlines now get the picture: ALPA pilots stand together and get things done.