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Southwest Airlines announces tentative agreement with pilots' union

Southwest Airlines Co. announced Monday it has reached an agreement in principle with its pilots on terms of a new contract, bringing nearly to an end four years of negotiations.

The tentative agreement comes after 10 months of mediated talks and after the pilots rejected a previous agreement, the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association said in a statement.

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"Our negotiators were able to bring back an agreement worthy of review," said the union president, Capt. Jon Weaks, in a statement. "The membership will have the final decision as always."

The tentative agreement lasts through August 2020 and provides pay raises comparable to salaries of pilots at Delta, United and American airlines, the union said. Also, the contract would align pilots' retirement plans with industry standards.

"The negotiating teams were able to reach an agreement that balances the needs of our pilots and the company," Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President Mike Van de Ven said in a statement. "We appreciate our pilots and recognize their role in the company's success."

This week, the airline and union will continue to discuss the final terms. The union's board of directors will meet in September to review the offer and decide if it should be put to members for a vote. The association represents about 8,000 pilots.

If approved by the board, the contracted would be voted upon by November, the union said.

The 46-year-old, Dallas-based company has grown to become the largest domestic carrier, it said. Southwest operates more than 3,900 departures a day during peak travel season, and it sends flights to 98 U.S. destinations and seven other countries.

More than 100 million people fly a year on Southwest, the company said.

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