Delta, union working to avoid furloughs of 2,300 pilots

FILE PHOTO: A Delta Airlines plane is parked at a gate as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues, with luggage handlers working at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., May 19, 2020.

ATLANTA, Georgia: Delta Air Lines Inc and its pilots union said on Sunday (May 31) they are working to avoid furloughs of roughly 2,300 pilots following a reshuffling process meant to match staffing to summer 2021 flying.

Delta said this month that it would have more pilots than needed as it reduces its network and fleet due to a drop in demand from the COVID-19 pandemic, but is working to avoid involuntary furloughs.

Following the results on Sunday of a so-called “surplus” bid in which employees were asked to petition available positions at one of Delta’s seven US pilot bases, the airline will be shifting around 7,000 pilots to different locations or aircraft types, while 2,327 have not been assigned to any category, Delta’s Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) said in a statement.

Delta confirmed the release of the results of the bid “to better align our staffing with our future flying demand” and said it is “looking at all options to mitigate or minimise furloughs and will continue working with ALPA in the coming weeks to explore those options.”

Atlanta-based Delta, with around 91,000 employees, announced on Thursday details of early out options for non-union employees that include cash severance, full healthcare coverage and travel benefits.

Major US airlines, which have received billions of dollars in taxpayer aid for payroll, have all warned that they will need to reduce their workforce once a government-imposed ban on job cuts expires on Sep 30.

After air travel demand virtually disappeared in April, US airline executives have pointed to some green shoots, but the industry is not expected to return to pre-pandemic passenger traffic for at least three years.

ALPA said it was continuing to meet with Delta on potential early-out or voluntary leave programmes, saying it is “optimistic that management will continue to engage with ALPA to protect pilot jobs”.

Z24 News

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