Southwest Airlines pilots have approved a new contract that includes a nearly 50% pay raise by 2028.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) announced Tuesday that the majority of its 11,000 members had voted to ratify a new five-year agreement with the Dallas-based carrier that includes annual pay increases till 2028, improved parental leave, modified scheduling practices, disability coverage, enriched retirement benefits, and other quality-of-life enhancements.

“This has been a long time coming and it is only through the unity of our pilot group that we were able to achieve the gains in this contract,” said SWAPA President Captain Casey Murray. “This new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) will bring our pilots the security and protections that have been long needed.”

Although negotiations lasted several years, as reported by The Dallas Express, Southwest indicated on January 22 that the new agreement would be advantageous for both parties.

The new five-year contract offers pilots industry-leading compensation and other benefits that will only stand to boost the airline’s day-to-day operations, according to Adam Carlisle, vice president of labor relations at Southwest Airlines.

“Our Pilots are world-class aviators who uphold Southwest’s commitments to Safety, Hospitality, and connecting People to what’s important in their lives,” said Carlisle in the news release. “This agreement justly rewards our Pilots and supports our operational needs.”

Although SWAPA has agreed to new contract terms with Southwest, implementation of the agreement will “take some time to get right,” according to Murray.

“We will work with Southwest to make sure that all of the changes that improve our pilots’ quality of life take place as quickly as possible,” he said. “I want to offer a sincere thank you to our pilots for their support and backing over the last few years. You are the reason we got here.”

Since October 2022, Southwest has ratified agreements with nine union-represented workgroups, with SWAPA being the latest group to approve a new contract.  Southwest said it remains in negotiations with two union-represented workgroups and “is committed to reaching agreements that reward those employees for their Southwest contributions.”

The Dallas Express reached out to Southwest for comment, but a spokesperson for the company directed the publication back to the official statement in the press release.