Delta Air Lines as reached a preliminary cost-cutting agreement with the union representing its pilots that will effectively halt further furloughs until 2022. The union said Thursday that the agreement will need to be approved by all of its members, which includes Delta's nearly 13,000 pilots.
Under the agreement, pilots would have to agree to specific terms that were negotiated by the airline. This includes the reduction of monthly minimum guaranteed working hours of all pilots by about 5%. If the agreement is approved, Delta Air Lines will hold off implementing its previously announced plans of furloughing up to 1,941 pilots.
Furloughed pilots generally will be given employment priority if the company decides to recall its workers. However, given the state of the pandemic in the country, the exact length of time needed for recovery remains uncertain.
"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," Delta's chief of operations, John Laughter, said in a memo to employees.
The country's two other major flag carriers United Airlines and American Airlines have already started furloughing employees after having failed to secure federal aid and deals with its workers' unions. Since the start of October, more than 30,000 employees have been furloughed by both companies. Under the terms of the $25 billion federal aid granted for the country's airlines, companies were prohibited from cutting jobs until the end of September.
Before the deadline, airlines were seeking additional aid as most were still unable to return to pre-pandemic-level operations. Unfortunately, Congress and the White House were not able to reach an agreement in time.
Delta Air Lines earlier halted its plans to furlough front line workers, including flight attendants and mechanics, thanks to the influx of volunteers for its early separation programs. The Atlanta-based carrier said that around 18,000 of its front line employees, or a fifth of its staff, had chosen to take its buyout deals. Other workers had also agreed to take unpaid leaves to ease the company's financial burdens.