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Spirit Airlines Cancels Flights Due to Strike

June 14, 2010 By: George Dooley

As a result of its pilots’ decision to strike, Spirit Airlines, a major carrier for the Caribbean and Latin America markets, canceled flights through Tuesday, June 15. For customers whose flights are canceled, Spirit is processing a credit for the full amount of the flight, as well as providing a $100 future flight credit. Customers who made reservations prior to May 11, 2010 directly with Spirit and purchased travel insurance should call Travel Guard at 866-877-3191 if their flight has been canceled.

In a message to customers, Spirit said it is continuing to work with its pilot union to reach a fair and equitable agreement that ensures the long-term stability of the company and allows Spirit to offer ultra-low fares. The pilots union declared a strike as of Saturday, June 12. Customers who prefer to receive a full refund can call 1 (800) 772-7117 and one of Spirit’s Customer Service Representatives will assist.

In a statement, Spirit offered clarification of it offer that was turned down by the union. “ALPA, the pilots union, turned down a compounded average 29 percent pay increase costing the company an additional $70 million over five years, net of productivity improvements agreed to by the pilots,” Spirit said. “This 29 percent pay increase when combined with annual step increases totals a 47 percent increase in annual compensation over five years, prior to any overtime pay, signing bonus and 401K matching contribution increases.

“In addition to the double-digit percent in salary increase, the pilots would have retained a four-day off break between each and every trip, a feature not found in any other ALPA contract, and another major issue of the negotiations,” the statement continued.  “Despite not being favored by Spirit, the four-day off issue was a continuous sticking point for ALPA.”

In addition, under the offer each pilot would have received a $3,000 signing bonus, Spirit said. The pilots would also receive an 8 percent 401K match in years one through three with an increase to 9 percent in year four, while all other Spirit employees only receive a three percent match.   

“It is surprising to me that ALPA would turn down this generous offer that would have paid senior captains over $200,000 per year,” says Spirit Airlines President and CEO Ben Baldanza. “I am concerned that our employees are being used in a broader political game that may not be in the interest of their careers or their families. This deal should be about Spirit and Spirit only, not about the pilots whose contracts are under negotiation at other ALPA carriers, but it would appear other forces have intervened.”



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