Pilots for Delta Air Lines (DAL) agreed to a new contract Wednesday that includes a 34% wage increase by 2026 and a range of welfare improvements aimed at addressing fatigue due to an industry-wide pilot shortage and a chaotic period in air travel.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing the pilots in negotiations, said that 78% of Delta pilots voted in favor of the contract. With this agreement, Delta becomes the first of the major U.S. airlines to establish a labor agreement with its pilots since the beginning of the pandemic.

The last Delta pilots contract was agreed upon in 2016, stamping a term that ran through 2019. The Atlanta-based carrier employs roughly 15,000 pilots, according to the ALPA.

"From the beginning of the negotiations process, we set out to deliver the industry's best pilot contract to the industry's best pilots, one that keeps us as a top destination for U.S. aviation careers, and this contract is a reflection of that unwavering commitment," Delta Chief of Operations John Laughter said in a statement.

On average, Delta's pilots earn somewhere in the range of $150,000 a year, according to surveys conducted by Indeed.

"This industry-leading contract is the direct result of the Delta pilots' unity and resolve," Darren Hartmann, a pilot and union official, said in a statement.

Delta and the pilots' union had already reached a preliminary agreement in December, just months after the airline's pilots agreed to picket during last year's intense travel rebound, and Wednesday's announcement cemented the vote.

Nearly 96% of eligible Delta pilots voted on the contract, which goes into effect Thursday. The new contract ends in 2026.

The move comes amid a sharp shortage of airline pilots, a problem that could potentially become much worse. In September, CNBC cited estimates from management consulting firm Oliver Wyman that the airline industry faced "a deficit of about 8,000 pilots, or 11% of the total workforce, and says the shortfall could reach 30,000 pilots by 2025."

As of 1:33 p.m. ET on Wednesday, shares of Delta were trading at $38.41, up $0.07, or 0.18%.