The union representing Spirit Airlines flight attendants is throwing its weight behind the proposed merger of Spirit and JetBlue.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA announced its support of a JetBlue-Spirit tie-up after reaching a tentative agreement with Spirit management that would secure immediate raises of 10% to 27% upon ratification.
“This was a significant investment in workers and showing of good faith from an airline that has yet to return to profitability in the wake of the pandemic,” the union said.
AFA also said that JetBlue has committed to protecting a no-furlough policy for Spirit flight attendants post-merger and an expedited process for a joint flight attendants contract negotiation during the integration process. JetBlue flight attendants are represented by the Transport Workers Union.
The merger, which would result in Spirit folding into JetBlue, could face a challenge from antitrust regulators. The Department of Justice is currently awaiting a court decision on its challenge of JetBlue’s Northeast Alliance with American Airlines. And the Biden administration has taken a proactive stance against further corporate consolidation across the U.S. In the airline sector, consolidation this century has resulted in American, Delta, Southwest and United controlling approximately 80% of the domestic market.
AFA president Sara Nelson addressed potential regulatory hurdles in a statement announcing the union’s support for the tie-up.
“The JetBlue-Spirit merger adds competition to the airline industry that creates more power for workers, along with choice and comfort that benefits consumers,” she said. “We urge regulators to work diligently to ensure the financial merger closing occurs in the near term so that flight attendants, other workers, and consumers can access the benefits of the merger as soon as possible.”
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The AFA said the merger would offer better working conditions for flight attendants, in part because it would result in the reconfiguration of Spirit’s high-density aircraft to the more spacious seating arrangements of JetBlue planes.
“Cramped conditions often contribute to passenger anger and far too frequent abuse of frontline workers,” the union said.
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