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Airline Pilot Early-out Package Details at US Airlines

Airline pilot early retirements - COVID-19 impacting airlines

Thanks to strong US airline pilot unions negotiating with its carriers, many early-out (early retirement) airline pilot packages have been arranged by now. You can find out the details of what the pilots negotiated with their respective U.S. airlines here.

Note: The airline pilot early-out details at U.S. airlines in this article was compiled by the renowned Aviation Consulting firm KitDarby.Com * Atlanta, GA * Copyright 2020.

The airline pilot early-out retirement programs were initiated to help mitigate the effects of what is expected to become the most layoffs in world airline employee history.

The agreements for the early-outs are the results of each respective pilot union reaching an agreement with the company.

Employee cuts are also necessary and helpful to the carriers since staffing (overhead) must come down to survive the coronavirus airline-crisis and ensure future profits for airline stockholders.

The specific details of the airline pilot early-outs at US carriers

The voluntary early retirement packages are for senior pilots who are close to the FAA mandated airline pilot retirement age of 65. Pilots applying for early-outs are awarded by seniority order.

American Airlines pilots

  • Name of the early-out pilot program: VPOLA (Voluntary Permanent Leave of Absence.
  • Monthly pay hours: 50.
  • Max paid hours over the life of the program: 1,800.
  • Pay rate: Pay amount for the bid position held at the start of the VPOLA.
  • Max number of months the pilot will get paid: 36 months (3 years) or mandatory age-retirement age 65, whichever occurs first.
  • 401(k): Yes, 16%.
  • Future vacation accrual: No. But unused 2020 vacation paid at age 65.
  • Profit-sharing eligible? Yes.
  • Medical insurance? Yes. Active pilot rates will be kept for medical, dental, and vision. 40% of accrued sick leave bank on the date of the early-out award to be paid at age 65.
  • Sick pay accrual? No.
  • Cockpit jumpseat travel approval? Yes, but cannot list in advance.
  • Non-revenue employee travel: Same as an active pilot.
  • Minimum pilot-age to qualify under the program: 62.
  • Right to return to active pilot flying status? No.
  • Deadline for program application: Closed.
  • Pilots participating: 788.
  • Program agreement signed: March 15, 2020.
  • Program average max value (Hourly pay multiplied by Max hours plus retirement money accrued plus any vacation credit): a) A330/B777/B787 Captain: $715,599. b) B757/B767 $582,072. c) B737/A320 Captain: $582,072.
pilot voluntary early retirements
The final flight is near for the many pilots volunteering for attractive early retirement offers that came as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Capt. Jimenez, for CaptainJetson.com

Delta Air Lines pilots

Update: In a surprise move, it has been announced that Delta pilots must choose pay cuts if they don’t want pilot furloughs for the next 12 months. However, the early-out program is still in effect, with the following conditions:

  • Name of the early-out pilot program: VEOP (Voluntary Early Out Program).
  • Monthly pay hours: 58.
  • Max paid hours over the life of the program: 2,088.
  • Pay rate: Highest pay rate for the position held in the bid for June 2020.
  • Max number of months the pilot will get paid: 36 months (3 years) or mandatory age-retirement age 65, whichever occurs first.
  • 401(k): No, but immediate access to accrued retirement benefits, frozen pension plan (Northwest Airlines), and PBGC benefits (Delta).
  • Future vacation accrual: No. But unused and accrued vacation paid out when the early retirement starts. The maximum vacation payout is 126 hours, plus 16% DC contribution.
  • Profit-sharing eligible? No.
  • Medical insurance? Yes. Company-paid for 2 years or until age 65, whichever occurs first. Contractual retiree medical can be accessed for a 24-month period until age 65.
  • Sick pay accrual? No.
  • Cockpit jumpseat travel approval? No (pilot will be removed from CASS).
  • Non-revenue employee travel: Active non-rev priority first 12 months of 36 months. Retiree non-rev priority for the last 24 months of 36 months. 8 positive-space passes plus normal retiree space-available travel.
  • Minimum pilot-age to qualify under the program: None. 50 years of age + 10 years of service; or 25 years of service or age + years of service must exceed 70.
  • Right to return to active pilot flying status? No.
  • Deadline for program application: July 19, 2020.
  • Pilots participating: Unknown.
  • Program agreement signed: June 26, 2020.
  • Program average max value (Hourly pay multiplied by Max hours plus retirement money accrued plus any vacation credit): a) A350/B777 Captain: $738,839. b) A330 Captain: $707,811. c) B767-400 Captain: $697,914. d) B757/B767 Captain: $618,445. e) A319/320/321 Captain: $596,124. f) B737 (all models) Captain $596124.

Jet Blue pilots

  • Name of the early-out pilot program: VPOLA (Voluntary Permanent Leave of Absence.
  • Monthly pay hours: 50.
  • Max paid hours over the life of the program: 1,200.
  • Pay rate: Current pay at the time the VPLOA becomes effective.
  • Max number of months the pilot will get paid: 24 months (2 years) or mandatory age-retirement age 65, whichever occurs first.
  • 401(k): Yes, 15%.
  • Future vacation accrual: No. But accrued 2020 vacation paid at age 65.
  • Profit-sharing eligible? Yes.
  • Medical insurance? Yes.
  • Sick pay accrual? No.
  • Cockpit jumpseat travel approval? no (pilot removed from CASS).
  • Non-revenue employee travel: Same as an active pilot until age 65, then eligible for retiree flight benefits.
  • Minimum pilot-age to qualify under the program: 63 years old on/before July 31, 2020.
  • Right to return to active pilot flying status? Not specified in the contract.
  • Deadline for program application: July 31, 2020.
  • Pilots participating: Unknown.
  • Program agreement signed: March 31, 2020.
  • Program average max value (Hourly pay multiplied by Max hours plus retirement money accrued plus any vacation credit): a) A320 Captain: $323,352. b) E-190 Captain: $258,696.

Southwest Airlines pilots

  • Name of the early-out pilot program: VSP (Voluntary Separation Pilot).
  • Monthly pay hours: 58.
  • Max paid hours over the life of the program: 3,540.
  • Pay rate: Not specified.
  • Max number of months the pilot will get paid: 60 months (5 years) or mandatory age-retirement age 65, whichever occurs first.
  • 401(k): No.
  • Future vacation accrual: No. Accrued vacation paid at separation.
  • Profit-sharing eligible? Yes.
  • Medical insurance? Yes. >55 and over: Active medical and dental for 5 years or age 65 (whichever occurs first). Then opt-in for retiree healthcare. Under 55 years of age: 12 months of company-paid COBRA medical and dental coverage.
  • Sick pay accrual? No.
  • Cockpit jumpseat travel approval? Yes.
  • Non-revenue employee travel: If retirement-eligible (at least 10 years of service + age >65), eligible for retiree pass privileges. If not retirement eligible: 48 months of space available privileges online.
  • Minimum pilot-age to qualify under the program: None (5 years max payment).
  • Right to return to active pilot flying status? No.
  • Deadline for program application: July 15, 2020.
  • Pilots participating: Unknown.
  • Program agreement signed: June 1, 2020.
  • Program average max value (Hourly pay multiplied by Max hours plus retirement money accrued plus any vacation credit): B737 Captain: $962,230. Trips (TFPs) converted to hours at 1 TFP = 52 minutes).

Alaska Airlines pilots

  • Name of the early-out pilot program: REIL (Retirement Extended Incentive Line).
  • Monthly pay hours: 50.
  • Max paid hours over the life of the program: 1,487 (including 287 hours of vacation).
  • Pay rate: Bid position at the beginning of the REIL.
  • Max number of months the pilot will get paid: 24 months (2 years) or mandatory age-retirement age 65, whichever occurs first.
  • 401(k): Yes, 15.5%.
  • Future vacation accrual: Yes. vacation accrued based on past and future years of service and balance paid out annually.
  • Profit-sharing eligible? Yes.
  • Medical insurance? Yes. Company-paid for 2 years or until age 65, whichever occurs first. Following the two years, if not age 65, company-paid medical as well until Medicare eligibility or two years, whichever occurs first.
  • Sick pay accrual? yes, paid out at retirement at 25%.
  • Cockpit jumpseat travel approval? Yes, but cannot list in advance.
  • Non-revenue employee travel: Same as an active pilot.
  • Minimum pilot-age to qualify under the program: 62.
  • Right to return to active pilot flying status? No.
  • Deadline for program application: Closed.
  • Pilots participating: 788.
  • Program agreement signed: March 15, 2020.
  • Program average max value (Hourly pay multiplied by Max hours plus retirement money accrued plus any vacation credit): a) A330/B777/B787 Captains: $715,599. b) B757/B767/B737/A320 Captains: $582,072.

Hawaiian Airlines pilots

  • Name of the early-out pilot program: PESL (Permanent Enhanced Surfer Leave).
  • Monthly pay hours: 58.
  • Max paid hours over the life of the program: 2,088 hours (age 62+) or 1,392 hours (age 60-62).
  • Pay rate: Pay rate in effect as of July 1, 2020.
  • Max number of months the pilot will get paid: If age 62 on/before December 31, 2020: 36 months or age 65. If age 60+ on/before December 31, 2020: 24 months.
  • 401(k): No.
  • Future vacation accrual: No. Accrued unused vacation paid out on September 7, 2021 or age 65 retirement date, whichever occurs first.
  • Profit-sharing eligible? No.
  • Medical insurance? Coverage continues until age 65 for all participants.
  • Sick pay accrual? No.
  • Cockpit jumpseat travel approval? No.
  • Non-revenue employee travel: Same as an active pilot until retirement age 65, then eligible for retiree flight benefits.
  • Minimum pilot-age to qualify under the program: 60 years old on/before December 31, 2020.
  • Right to return to active pilot flying status? No.
  • Deadline for program application: TBA.
  • Pilots participating: Unknown.
  • Program agreement signed: July 10, 2020.
  • Program average max value (Hourly pay multiplied by Max hours plus retirement money accrued plus any vacation credit): a) A330 Captain (age 62+) $651,707. b) A330 Captain (age 60-62): $434,471. c) A321 Captain (age 62+): $532,231. d) A321 Captain (age 60-62): $354,821. e) B717 Captain (age 62+): $477,922. f) B717 Captain (age 60-62): $318,615.

Air Wisconsin pilots

  • Name of the early-out pilot program: Active Retiree Status.
  • Monthly pay hours: 37.5.
  • Max paid hours over the life of the program: 2,250.
  • Pay rate: Pilot’s pay as of May 1, 2020.
  • Max number of months the pilot will get paid: 60 months (5 years) or mandatory age-retirement age 65, whichever occurs first.
  • 401(k): No.
  • Future vacation accrual: No. Accrued 2020 vacation is unspecified.
  • Profit-sharing eligible? N/A.
  • Medical insurance? Yes.
  • Sick pay accrual? No.
  • Cockpit jumpseat travel approval? Unspecified.
  • Non-revenue employee travel: Same as an active pilot.
  • Minimum pilot-age to qualify under the program: 60 or older and at least 10 years of service.
  • Right to return to active pilot flying status? Yes, IF < 64 years old AND company resumes hiring.
  • Deadline for program application: June 1, 2020.
  • Pilots participating: Unknown.
  • Program agreement signed: April 17, 2020.
  • Program average max value (Hourly pay multiplied by Max hours plus retirement money accrued plus any vacation credit): All captains: $262,283.

United Airlines pilots

The pilot early-out program details for United has been covered in our separate article, United ALPA Pilots agree on Pilot Voluntary Separation (early-out) Program.

Your opinion

What do you think about the details of the pilot early-out programs at U.S. airlines? You can let us know here.

Featured Image: Capt. John for CaptainJetson.com.

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