JetBlue raises flight attendant pay, union agrees to support merger with Spirit

JetBlue Airways said it will raise flight attendant pay next year and provide other bonuses to staff while the union representing cabin crews agreed to support the carrier’s plan to acquire budget carrier Spirit Airlines.

Starting in November, flight attendants will get 5% raises. Including another 2% raise, a slate of other incentives and previously negotiated raises under flight attendants’ union contract, their raises in 2026 will compound to 21.5% increases, according to a company memo, which was seen by CNBC Friday.

The raises come as the New York-based carrier is in the process of trying to acquire Spirit, a merger the Justice Department has sued to block. A trial for that lawsuit is set to begin on Oct. 16 in Boston.

JetBlue agreed not to furlough or displace any flight attendants or close any associated bases for seven years after a potential acquisition of Spirit goes through, the memo said.

“The current contract was negotiated during COVID, and since then our inflight crewmembers pay rates have fallen below other airlines by a significant margin,” a JetBlue spokesman said in a statement. “Because our inflight crewmembers play a significant role in delivering the JetBlue experience, it’s important that we’re able to attract and retain high-quality crewmembers with competitive pay and benefits.”

The union said it would, in turn, support the planned acquisition of Spirit.

“With this agreement made by your TWU Local 579 Executive Board and JetBlue, we support the JetBlue and Spirit transaction and will not hold an additional informational picket or speak publicly against the acquisition,” the union said in a note to members.

JetBlue also agreed to additional pay for staff that fly the carrier’s trans-Atlantic routes and in its Mint business-class cabin, as well as other incentives, according to a letter of agreement with the Transport Workers Union, which represents JetBlue’s 7,000 flight attendants.

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