The union that represents Delta Air Lines pilots says 1,806 of its members have so far taken advantage of early retirement packages but talks with the airline to avoid involuntary furloughs continue. Last month, the Atlanta-based airline sent furlough warning notices to 2,558 pilots but called on crew to accept a 15 per cent pay cut in order to help avoid as many redundancies as possible.
The news came on the same day that Delta announced plans to resume flights to 50 international destinations based in part on the easing of some travel restrictions, as well as the hope that a COVID-19 vaccine could be made available by early 2021.
“While significant hurdles remain in the global fight against the pandemic, we are ready to connect customers to the people, places, opportunities and experiences they’re longing for,” explained Joe Esposito, Delta’s senior vice president for network planning.
Delta does, however, expect international travel to lag far behind any recovery in the U.S. domestic market and Delta’s head of flight operations, John Laughter told pilots in an internal memo that the airline was still working through additional changes to its planned schedules based on travel demand, recovery forecasts and rapidly changing travel restrictions.
A Delta spokesperson said involuntary furloughs remain a “last resort” and talks with the ALPA pilots union continue. The spokesperson explained that negotiations were focused on finding ways to spread the available flying amongst its pilot workforce.
“I want to personally recognize and thank those of you who have decided that taking the early out program is the right decision for you and your family,” Capt. Ryan Schnitzler of ALPA’s Delta Master Executive Council said in a recent memo to its members.
“When I look at the list of names, I see a lot of colleagues turned friends who will depart a little early into their next phase of life. We will miss our friends but offer them a heartfelt congratulations on a career well-served; tailwinds and blue skies for their futures.”
Many airlines believe it could take until at least 2024 for the aviation industry to recover from the Corona crisis but on Friday, World Health Organization director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus suggested the pandemic could be over within two years.