Southwest to negotiate pilot contracts

TEXT OF STORY

BRIAN WATT: Southwest Airlines has flown free of labor troubles that have plagued other carriers, but negotiations with its pilots will be taking off soon. Marketplace's Steve Tripoli has more.


STEVE TRIPOLI: Southwest has hedging contracts that give it a big fuel-cost advantage over competitors. But those are ending.

Their pilots are the industry's best-paid. Analyst Bryson Monteleone says there's a reason for that.

BRYSON MONTELEONE: "Very few pilots do what Southwest pilots do. The flexibility that Southwest has with their pilots is really unmatched within the industry."

Analyst Michael Boyd says there may be non-salary trade-offs both sides can make.

Boyd says any concessions may be easier because the two sides historically work well together.

MICHAEL BOYD:"So, when you sit down at the bargaining table, there isn't a whole lot of other agendas other than let's just work this out."

The two sides appear anxious for a smooth landing.

The pilots are already saying higher pay is not a big objective. Southwest for its part is lauding the atmosphere as talks begin.

I'm Steve Tripoli for Marketplace.

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