Spirit Airlines’ pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), have voted to ratify a new five-year working agreement, concluding an often-contentious three-year effort to secure a new labor contract.

According to ALPA and Fort Lauderdale-based ultra-LCC Spirit, the contract includes an average 43% pay increase effective on the date of signing, along with increased contributions to pilots’ retirement plans and $75 million in ratification compensation.

Negotiations between Spirit management and the pilots’ ALPA representatives were conducted with National Mediation Board assistance for nearly two years; in January, the two sides reached a tentative agreement.

“[The] new contract will give our pilots a deserved increase in pay and benefits and will allow the airline to operate more efficiently and reliably,” Spirit CEO Robert Fornaro said, while ALPA’s Spirit unit chairman Stuart Morrison indicated the agreement will improve Spirit’s ability to attract and retain new pilots.

The resolution of the long-standing contract impasse relieves an extended period of labor-related uncertainty for the ULCC.

Relations between Spirit and its over 1,600 pilots grew tense in 2017 when the airline was granted a temporary restraining order compelling its pilots to halt an alleged “pervasive illegal work slowdown” in the wake of stalled contract negotiations.

In early May, pervasive pilot unavailability led to about 15% of Spirit’s flight schedule being canceled.

The situation came to a head at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport May 8, when police were called in to quell a passenger uproar near a Spirit check-in counter, related to flight cancellations the airline attributed to the alleged slowdown, an incident widely seen on social media.

Several days later, both Spirit and ALPA agreed to indefinitely extend the temporary restraining order and resume negotiations. Negotiations broke down again in early September, with pilots voting to an authorize a strike if further negotiations failed. The strike action never materialized.

Spirit recently posted $231 million in adjusted net profit (excluding a $199 million end-of-year tax related-benefit and other special charges) for 2017, down 20.7% from $291 million in adjusted net profit for 2016. But operating revenues for the year increased 14%, driven by a 10.7% increase in flight volumes.

“[It was] an admirable performance considering the hurricanes and other disruptions this year,” Spirit president and CFO Ted Christie said at the time.

Mark Nensel mark.nensel@informa.com