Pilots at Sun Country Airlines will soon get a significant pay bump if their union members approve an agreement reached with the company.
The Twin Cities-based carrier and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) are finalizing language after reaching an "agreement in principle" last week, and they expect a vote by pilots later this month.
If approved, Sun Country will have some of the highest-paid Boeing 737 pilots in the country. The 737 is the most commonly flown commercial airplane with thousands in flight at any given moment around the globe.
A pilot union spokesman, Will Outlaw, declined to provide specific salary details because the agreement has not been reviewed by pilots, but he said negotiations began this summer and moved quickly, with both sides motivated to come to an agreement.
The pilots will get a nice raise and some improvements to work rules while management can leverage the agreement to recruit pilots. Sun Country is looking to hire more pilots so it can grow its fleet and network.
"By the fourth year of the contract, the pay rates, especially at the top end of the scale for the most senior captains, are above the Delta (Air Lines) rates for the same airplane, so they're quite good," Outlaw said.
Atlanta-based Delta — the largest airline at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — currently has the industry's highest pay for 737 pilots. Delta is currently in negotiations with its pilot group for a new contract.
"We believe this agreement, once ratified, will help us meet or exceed our growth targets, which is beneficial to our pilots, all of our team members and our community," Jude Bricker, Sun Country's chief executive, said in a statement, "This is a pivotal moment in time for our company, our amazing pilot group and the future of Sun Country Airlines."
Sun Country and the pilots' union agreed last year to postpone negotiations because of the pandemic, Outlaw said.
This year's negotiations moved much quicker than the previous contract. It took five years of start-and-stop negotiations before pilots signed a contract in 2015. Sun Country was then owned by brothers Mitch and Marty Davis, of the same Davis family who own countertop and surface manufacturer Cambria. Before that contract was reached, pilots had approved a strike authorization after working under an expired contract for five years.
The 2015 contract raised a new hire's pay from $30 an hour to $48 an hour and provided incremental increases during the contract's five-year life span. The pay for senior captains topped out in 2019 at $201 an hour under that contract.
The Davis family sold the company in 2018 to Apollo Global Management of New York, and Sun Country went public earlier this year.
Sun Country only flies Boeing 737 jets for its commercial, cargo and charter flights.