CHICAGO, Jan 14 (Reuters) - United Airlines Holdings Inc pilots on Tuesday re-elected Todd Insler as chairman of the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association for a term that will include contract negotiations and overseeing the eventual return-to-service of the Boeing 737 MAX.
It is the third consecutive term for Insler, a 25-year veteran Boeing 757/767 pilot at United who was elected unanimously. He will retain his seat on the airline’s board of directors during the two-year role.
The five-year contract for United’s 13,000 union pilots became amenable in January, 2019. More than a year of negotiations have slowed over scope clause, which determines how much flying can be outsourced to non-union pilots.
The delays have put a spotlight on the challenge ahead with leadership change at the airline, where Scott Kirby is to replace Oscar Munoz as CEO.
“We’re not in a rush to get the wrong deal. We want the right deal for our pilots,” Insler told Reuters after the election result.
He said the union is already working closely with United, Boeing Co and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on safely returning the 737 MAX to the skies following its global grounding in March following two deadly crashes.
United is scheduling flights without the MAX into early June in anticipation of extra simulator training requirements for pilots once regulators finally approve the jet to fly again.
Pilots at American Airlines Group Inc and Delta Air Lines are also in the middle of contract negotiations.
The contract for Delta’s pilots became amenable on Dec. 31, but nine months of talks have not produced a deal. The head of Delta’s pilots union told its members in a letter last week that management has asked the union to jointly seek federal mediation.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian declined to comment on the negotiations during a quarterly analyst call on Tuesday.
The union representing Delta’s 14,500 pilots has complained of inadequate staffing to meet increased flying and said management has offered only $28 million in contract improvements even after five years of profits exceeding $5 billion.
U.S. airlines are enjoying nearly a decade of profits but some analysts have expressed concern about the impact of rising labor costs on margins. (Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Dan Grebler)