The largest flight attendants union, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, is backing the proposed $3.8 billion merger of JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines as part of a new agreement with the latter carrier.
“The JetBlue-Spirit merger adds competition to the airline industry that creates more power for workers, along with choice and comfort that benefits consumers,” AFA President Sara Nelson said Tuesday. “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.”
AFA represents the roughly 5,600 flight attendants at Spirit. JetBlue’s more than 4,800 flight attendants are represented by the Transport Workers Union, or TWU.
Labor support for the merger is not a guarantee that the U.S. Department of Justice, which handles antitrust matters, will approve the deal. Reports indicate that the regulator intends to block the JetBlue-Spirit combination, and JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said Tuesday that the carrier was ready “to go to court” if it had too to get the deal done.
However, labor backing of a merger can make the integration process go more smoothly once the deal closes.
AFA’s support for the merger came as part of a new two-year accord with Spirit. The tentative agreement, which flight attendants still must vote on, also includes pay raises of 10-27 percent upon ratification.