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The union for pilots at Delta Air Lines Inc. says negotiators have reached a tentative contract agreement with the airline.

The deal announced Thursday goes next to an executive committee of the union, which could set a ratification vote among Delta pilots.

Terms were not disclosed.

If ratified, the deal would mark an early completion to negotiations that can become testy and drawn-out in the heavily unionized airline industry. Airline contracts don’t expire but instead become open for renewal — something that wasn’t due to happen with the Delta pilots’ contract until December.

Delta, based in Atlanta, is the nation’s third-biggest airline company by traffic, behind American and United. Its pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, which said it prepared for the negotiations for a year.

Airline labor groups are demanding better pay now that the carriers are earning record profits. Delta reported net income of $659 million last year, although that included write-downs of fuel-hedging contracts. Without such items, Atlanta-based Delta would have earned $2.8 billion.

Photo Credit: Pilots demonstrating the use of iPads in the cabin. Delta Air Lines