After six years of negotiations, Las Vegas-based ultra LCC Allegiant Air and its 1,150 flight attendants have a contract.

Allegiant’s flight attendants, as represented by the Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO (TWU) voted to ratify the collective bargaining agreement, their first-ever with the company, which went into effect Dec. 21 for a five-year term.

TWU said the contract was ratified by a 70% vote, with over 95% of membership participating. According to TWU, the agreement provides for better wages, sick leave and grievance procedures. “The rank-and-file flight attendants and TWU leadership were determined to win a solid contract from Allegiant Air,” TWU international president John Samuelson said.

Efforts to secure a collective bargaining agreement for Allegiant’s flight attendants began in 2011. TWU became the flight attendants’ exclusive representative in contract talks in February 2016. A tentative agreement for a contract failed to ratify in September 2016 and the talks were placed under the supervision of the National Mediation Board.

“The first contract agreement with our flight attendants is an important milestone,” Allegiant chairman and CEO Maury Gallagher said. “[It is] a contract that supports our team members, keeps us highly competitive across the industry and enables future growth.”

Allegiant will add 30 Airbus aircraft to its fleet between the end of 2017 and 2018 as the company has accelerated the retirement of its aging MD-80 fleet. “We now plan to retire our last MD by the end of 2018 … one year earlier than was previously expected,” Gallagher said Oct. 30. “[Thanks] goes out to the members of our fleet team, who … were able to source enough [Airbus] A320 aircraft to make this happen.”

Allegiant expects to end 2017 with a fleet comprising 37 MD-80s, 22 A319s, 20 177-seat A320s and 10 186-seat A320s.

The company was hard hit by the hurricanes that struck the Caribbean and southeast US in August and September. Allegiant’s 2017 third-quarter net profit totaled $22 million, a 51% drop from the 3Q 2016. In its quarterly results presentation at the end of October, Allegiant said it was seeing a decrease in demand for the fourth quarter and noted that approximately 80% of its 4Q capacity traditionally touches Las Vegas or Florida. At the time, Las Vegas was still reeling from the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip.

Nonetheless, Allegiant’s traffic rebounded in November. The company reported a 12.8% year-over-year increase in both passengers and RPMs, and capacity was up 10.6%. Allegiant’s 81.5% passenger load factor was 1.6 points higher YOY.

Mark Nensel