Delta Pilots To Vote On Furlough Plan

Europe Delta Pilots at Capitol Hill
Representational photo of pilots Source: Delta/Instagram

A proposed deal between the 13,000-stong pilots of Delta Air Lines and its pilots could see a reduction in monthly minimum guaranteed hours by 5 percent and provide for improved retirement savings benefits.

Aviation website, simpleflying.com reported that Delta Air Lines and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) have agreed on a deal in principle providing furlough protection for its pilots until January 1, 2022. The pilots will vote on November 28.

In August, Delta announced it was set to furlough 1,941 pilots while warning of additional furloughing in the future. According to FlightGlobal, Delta pilots will now have until November 28 to agree to the new deal.

Airline employees who are furloughed generally retain rights to be recalled by the company, but given the industry’s downturn in the pandemic, it’s not clear when that could be.

The agreement comes as U.S. airlines facing mounting financial losses, which topped $11 billion in the third quarter, cnbc.com said. The website reported that American Airlines and United Airlines had earlier this month started furloughing more than 30,000 employees.

Carriers were prohibited from cutting jobs until October 1 under the terms of $25 billion in federal aid for the sector. Airlines are seeking additional aid but the White House and Congress have been unable to reach an agreement on an additional coronavirus stimulus package.

The Atlanta-based carrier has said its other frontline workers like flight attendants escaped furloughs thanks to some 18,000 employees, roughly a fifth of its pre-pandemic staff, who opted to take buyouts, while thousands of others took unpaid leave. Delta had postponed planned pilot furloughs until Nov. 1 as negotiations continued with pilots.

“While this agreement is still subject to approval by the [union’s executive council], we are confident this can help Delta to be better positioned through the long and choppy COVID-19 pandemic recovery,” said John Laughter, Delta’s chief of operations in a note to employees.

Delta said it would delay the furlough effective date until November 28 to allow pilots to vote on the plan.

Southwest Airlines has said it wouldn’t pursue furloughs this year but it has asked its workers to take 10% pay cuts to avoid cuts through 2021.

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