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Southwest and Pilots Reach Tentative Agreement on New Contract

Tentative Deal Reached for Southwest Pilots

The tentative agreement follows three years of negotiations.

By Samantha Delouya, CNN

(CNN) –After three years of negotiating, Southwest Airlines and the union representing the airline’s pilots reached a tentative agreement on a new contract on Wednesday.

“We know that the last few years have been difficult for our pilots as well as our customers, but we believe that this TA rewards our pilots as well as improving reliability for our passengers,” said Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President Casey Murray in a statement.

The SWAPA union’s 25-member board approved the deal Wednesday after union leadership reached an initial agreement in principle with Southwest earlier this week.

But the deal isn’t guaranteed to go to contract: the union’s nearly 11,000 members can vote on whether or not to approve the contract until January 22.

A spokesperson for SWAPA told CNN the contract is worth $12 billion. Reuters first reported the contract’s dollar amount.

The agreement runs through December 2028 and “provides significant gains in compensation, with pay rate increases over the next four years,” the union said.

The deal also includes flying schedule improvements, better disability coverage and increases to retirement benefits, according to the union.

In a statement to CNN, Chris Perry, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, said the airline was pleased.

“The AIP (agreement in principle) is a key milestone in the process, and we look forward to the next steps,” Perry said.

The deal comes days after the US Department of Transportation announced it would fine Southwest $140 million for last year’s 10-day-long holiday meltdown that stranded more than 2 million travelers, making it the largest-ever civil penalty.

If the contract deal is approved by Southwest’s pilots, it will be the latest major pilot contract agreement in the last 12 months, after Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines reached their own deals with pilots’ unions.

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