AirTran flight attendants approve new contract

Flight attendants at AirTran Airways will get pay raises under a new labor contract approved Monday.

The flight attendants voted to approve the new deal as they wait for the completion of AirTran’s integration into higher-paying Southwest Airlines.

Under the new contract, AirTran’s roughly 1,700 flight attendants will get an immediate 3 percent pay increase, followed by another 3 percent raise in January 2014.

Southwest, which has higher pay than AirTran, acquired AirTran in 2011.

So far, more than 400 AirTran flight attendants have transitioned to Southwest.

But the transition of AirTran into Southwest is a gradual process, and it is not expected to be complete until early 2015.

The deal gives the AirTran flight attendants full Southwest pay rates in January 2015.

Alison Head, president of the Association of Flight Attendants at AirTran, said in a written statement: “AirTran Flight Attendants stood strong throughout negotiations and remained resolute that we not be left behind as a result of this merger.”

The union had been in negotiations with Southwest since February on a deal to “serve as a bridge” for AirTran flight attendants until they transition to Southwest, according to an e-mail from a union spokeswoman and a statement from the company when the tentative deal was struck.

Southwest has said the deal gives flight attendants “rewards and incentives for increased productivity and perfect attendance, while remaining mindful of AirTran’s low cost structure,” according to a statement when the tentative deal was struck.

Southwest flight attendants are represented by the Transport Workers Union.