Horizon Air's agreement with pilots reflects new rest requirements

Nov 5, 2012

A tentative contract between pilots and Horizon Air includes more rest time between flights. That reflects a federal rule that goes into effect by early 2014, one that may prompt many other airlines to renegotiate pilot contracts.

The new rule requiring longer rest times is aimed at reducing pilot fatigue. It came in the wake of a Colgan Air crash near Buffalo, New York, in 2009 – in which sleep-deprivation may have played a role.

The Teamsters represent Horizon Air pilots. They say the agreement includes a six percent wage increase over six years and includes the new rest time requirements.

William Swelbar is an air transportation expert at MIT. He says Alaska Air, the parent of Horizon, is leading the way for other airlines in negotiating some concessions from pilots to make up for the expense of additional rest time.

"They are being very proactive in working with their pilot group to come up with some additional productivity savings because clearly there's a productivity cost as a result of the legislation," Swelbar said.

Swelbar says in particular the new rest rules will affect regional airlines like Horizon. Horizon says the pilots are expected to vote on the deal by mid-December. The agreement covers 610 pilots.