Spirit Airlines to settle contract talks with pilots, avoid possible strike


MIRAMAR, Fla. — Spirit Airlines said Wednesday it still intends to settle contract talks with its pilots, who moved closer to a possible strike by rejecting binding arbitration.

But the airline also warned that it could be notifying employees “of possible reductions that could be implemented.”

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The National Mediation Board released Spirit and the Air Line Pilots Association from negotiations, which begins a 30-day “cooling-off” period, after which the union can strike or the company can lock out workers.

The Florida-based airline said it planned to continue operating normally.

Spirit said in a statement that it wants a contract “that effectively ensures the long-term stability and growth of the company, as well as providing for rewarding and stable careers for our pilots and co-workers who do a great job for the company.”

Officials of the pilots’ union did not immediately return calls for comment. Last week they charged that Spirit was failing to bargain in good faith.

The two sides have been in negotiations for more than three years. The union has said little or no progress was made and that the company was profitable but demanded that workers take big cuts in benefits.

Spirit dubs itself an ultra low-cost carrier. It operates about 150 daily flights in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The company attracted notice recently when it announced that beginning Aug. 1 it would charge passengers up to $45 for carry-on bags. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the fees outrageous.