The ALPA pilot union at low cost carrier Frontier Airlines has petitioned US federal mediators to release it from mediation, potentially starting a process that could lead to a strike.
The Air Line Pilots Association “believes further mediation would be futile” and requested the US National Mediation Board (NMB) to offer arbitration to the two parties.
If the NMB does offer arbitration and either the union or the company declines, a 30-day cooling-off period would kick-in. That could be followed by a pilot strike or a lockout by the company if no agreement is reached.
ALPA maintains that the 1,200 pilots at Frontier are the lowest-paid narrow-body pilots in the United States. It said pay rates for captains were 40 percent below the industry average.
ALPA president Tim Canoll said that “Despite its industry-leading financial performance, Frontier Airlines has insisted upon a substantially discounted pilot contract. The company has made it plain that it is unwilling to pay market rates.”
The airline and union have been in negotiations for over two years and in mediation since late 2016. There are no further mediation sessions scheduled.
“Frontier pilots have been working under the same contract for more than 10 years while our peers at other airlines have negotiated big increases with their companies,” ALPA’s Frontier group chair, Captain Tracy Smith said.
“We are absolutely unwilling to work at a discount… We demand a market-rate agreement and we are 100 percent ready to strike if that’s what it takes to get one.”