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DENVER (AP) — Frontier Airlines pilots have approved a new contract after nearly three years of negotiations.

The Air Line Pilots Association said 77 percent of pilots for the Denver-based discount carrier backed the deal in a vote that ended Thursday. The union says the new contract, which will take effect next Wednesday, will provide an average 53 percent pay increase.

Frontier pilots have been working under a contract changed in 2011 to keep the airline out of bankruptcy. Negotiations began in March 2016 and soon turned into mediation overseen by federal officials.

Pilots voted to authorize a strike in 2017. However, federal law makes it difficult for airline workers to strike so pilots staged demonstrations, including sending a "strike bus" to cities in Frontier's network.

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