Release #: ALA-VRD 17.06
October 31, 2017

Arbitration Panel Rules on Alaska-Virgin America Pilots Joint Contract

SEATTLE, Wash.—Alaska Airlines and Virgin America pilots, both represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), announced today that a three-member arbitration panel has ruled on the pay, 401(k) retirement benefit, and job-security provisions of the pilots’ joint contract. The joint collective bargaining agreement, which will bring the two pilot groups together under one contract, is effective immediately. The contract is amendable April 1, 2020.

The contract includes pay increases above what was requested by Alaska Airlines management, but well below the rates sought by the pilots, effective November 1, and includes improvements to the 401(k) retirement plan for pilots without a defined benefit plan. The agreement also rejected the pilots’ request for basic job-security protections enjoyed by virtually every other pilot group in the industry.

“While the arbitrators’ decision does include what, under most circumstances, would be considered significant raises, it still leaves the combined pilot group well behind our peers at other successful airlines. For that reason, we are concerned about our airlines’ ability to attract and retain the pilots they need,” said Alaska Master Executive Council (MEC) chairman Capt. Chris Notaro. “We remain disappointed and frustrated that Alaska management failed to negotiate an industry-standard contract, and instead relied on a third-party to issue a decision with respect to our first contract as a combined pilot group.”

The pilots’ negotiations went to arbitration at the end of August after a contentious period during which Alaska management continued to insist that the Alaska and Virgin America pilots should be willing to accept far less than what other successful airlines offer their pilots. The next steps in merging the two pilot groups—creating an integrated seniority list—will begin now that a joint contract is in place.

“Unity, camaraderie, and professionalism are truly our strengths, and the support and professionalism from our pilots throughout this difficult period has been tremendous,” said Capt. Joe Youngerman, chairman of ALPA’s Virgin America MEC. “We now turn our focus to the next steps required to merge our pilot groups, and on preparing for Section 6 negotiations—which will begin in 2019—when our pilots will be one unified group, ready to seek the improvements that we all know are still needed.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 58,000 pilots at 33 airlines in the United States and Canada, including the 2,700 pilots at Alaska and Virgin America. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA, @AlaskaMECALPA, @VXALPA, and on Facebook: /MECAlaska.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or
Alaska MEC, Jenn Sutton: 206-241-3138 or 425-221-3179 or
Virgin America MEC, Katy Adams: 703-481-4430 or 561-385-3098 or