Spirit Airlines Pilots Walk Off The Job To Demand Fair Contract


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Spirit Airlines Pilots Walk Off The Job To Demand Fair Contract

Shane Nolan

June 13, 2010 - Spirit Airlines and the pilots union with the help of the National Mediation Board worked tirelessly through the night until 5:00 AM to reach a fair and equitable agreement. At 5:01 AM Saturday, Spirit pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), went on strike against their company—and will not return to the cockpit until a fair and equitable contract is negotiated. (see Spirit Airlines Pilots Will Strike If No Contract By June 12th)

Pilot negotiators agreed to extend the strike deadline twice in order to review final proposals put forth by both parties to keep the airline running. In the end, both sides could not reach an agreement.  

“Spirit pilots are willing to withdraw their services to get the contract they deserve. Immediately after 5:00 a.m., the Spirit Pilot Master Executive Council, as authorized by our pilots, called for and instituted a lawful strike against our management,” announced Captain Sean Creed, head of the Spirit unit of ALPA.


As a result of the pilots’ decision to strike, Spirit Airlines flights have been cancelled until Wednesday. For those customers whose flights are cancelled, Spirit is processing a credit for the full amount of the flight, as well as providing a $100 future flight credit.  

“Spirit pilots are willing to withdraw their services to get the contract they deserve,” said Captain John Prater, president of ALPA. “Every one of the 53,000 pilots of ALPA stands with them as they go on strike.  As pilots, our livelihood is in the air—not on the picket line—but the inability of Spirit management to negotiate a contract that adequately compensates our professional members has created this dispute. I urge Spirit management to reconsider their position on the value of their experienced and professional airline pilots.”  

The strike comes after nearly four years of contract negotiations and numerous attempts by the pilots to find a middle ground with management and avoid a strike. All Spirit pilots, especially first officers, have been working at below-market rates for years, and under substandard work rules.  

For the past week, pilot representatives have been meeting with company officials in a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement. However, after two extensions that pushed the deadline until early Saturday morning, no agreement was reached, so the pilots were forced to use the last weapon in their arsenal and call for a lawful strike.   


“No one wanted this strike—certainly not this pilot group. We have sacrificed so much to see this company prosper. Now we are sacrificing our paychecks until we get a contract that reflects our contributions to this airline,” said Creed. “This contract is not just for the pilots who currently fly for Spirit, right now. We have a responsibility to maintain our profession and pass down a legacy of a job worth having.”  

“We are frustrated and disappointed that our pilots have turned down an over 30 percent increase at a cost of over $70 million over five years while disrupting thousands of our customers and jeopardizing the livelihoods of our over 2,000 employees,” said Spirit Airlines President and CEO Ben Baldanza. 

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union and represents 53,000 pilots at 38 airlines in the United States and Canada, including more than 440 pilots at Spirit Airlines.
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