Southwest Airlines reaches tentative deal with mechanics to end dispute

Joe Williams

Southwest Airlines and its mechanics reached a tentative labor agreement that could end a standoff between the two sides that led to hundreds of canceled flights and cost the carrier millions of dollars.

In a joint statement on Saturday, the Dallas-based airline and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association said the deal would bump pay by 20 percent for the nearly 2,400 mechanics and includes a $160 million one-time bonus. It must still be approved by the union.

“We are very pleased with the efforts of both teams to find common ground on a new contract,” the two sides said.

Southwest was forced to declare an “operational emergency” in February after maintenance issues with some of its jets forced a higher-than-normal amount of out-of-service aircraft. In a lawsuit, the airline accused union members of flagging non-safety related items to manufacture a crisis and force the company to make more concessions in the tentative labor agreement.

Southwest and the mechanics union have been in negotiations for more than six years, most recently in federally mediated sessions. The AMFA previously rejected an agreement that included a 16.3 percent pay raise.

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The airline is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration over how it calculates baggage weight.

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