Delta pilots approve cost-cutting measures to avoid holidays until 2022

A pilot talks on a mobile device near a Delta Air Lines gate at Salt Lake City International Airport.

George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines pilots voted in favor of pay cuts that would avoid time off until 2022 as the industry recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, their union said on Wednesday.

The agreement allows the company to reduce guaranteed pilot hours by 5%. The more than 1,700 pilots who were said to have been put on leave by the Atlanta-based airline at the end of the month will receive part-time pay of 30 hours per month and will not have to fly. The plan received 74% approval, said the union, which represents nearly 13,000 Delta pilots.

US airlines have cut more than 70,000 jobs this year – more than 30,000 combined involuntary cuts at American and United – and tens of thousands of voluntary departures. Carriers nationwide have lost more than $ 20 billion in the past two quarters and have struggled to cut costs, with the virus preventing many potential customers from flying.

Delta has avoided involuntary leave thanks to the agreement and the thousands of employees who have accepted voluntary buyouts and time off. Delta also cut the hours of ground workers by 25%.

“We are grateful to keep all of our pilots actively employed and to provide stability for you and your families,” said John Laughter, Delta’s chief operating officer, in a note to the pilots Wednesday.

He warned of challenges due to peaks in coronavirus infections.

“Our recovery will be patchy – as evidenced by the recent increase in COVID rates affecting our bookings for the holiday season,” Laughter wrote. “But there is still a lot to be thankful for, and by working together we continue to maintain and develop a loyal customer base who feel confident by choosing Delta time and time again for our safety, reliability and service. . “

Southwest Airlines is negotiating with several of its unions over cost cutting and other measures it says could prevent its first involuntary time off in its nearly 50-year flight.

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