Corrects the APA president's name in the fourth paragraph.
American Airlines (AAL) pilots are falling behind their peers in pay rates, and their union president said Thursday that he will ask that talks on contract improvements begin in 2017.
In 2015, the Allied Pilots Association signed a five-year contract that would become amendable in 2020. Opening talks had been scheduled for 2019.
But new contracts or tentative contract deals at other passenger and cargo carriers mean American pilots have fallen to the sixth-highest-paid pilot group.
"No. 6 is someplace I don't care to be," APA President Dan Carey said on a video presentation email to pilots on Thursday.
"It's unacceptable to stay at No. 6 for the duration of the bankruptcy contract where we are today," Carey said. "We want to make some changes in 2017. We're not going to sit here and be No. 6 until 2020."
The airline's view is that in 2015 the two parties signed a contract that provided substantial pay raises, and that the contract should remain in effect.
"Our philosophy is to provide industry-leading pay when contracts are signed," said American spokesman Ron Defeo. "When we reached a [joint collective bargaining agreement] in January 2015, our pilots saw an average pay increase of 53%" above 2013 rates.
Many pilots from US Airways, which merged with American in 2005, received raises that were above the 53% average because they worked under a bankruptcy court contract since 2005.
"When other airline pilot groups negotiate increases in the years that follow our pilot contract ratification, it's only good news for our team moving forward," Defeo said. "When contracts become amendable and bargaining begins, those types of pay increases will follow."