MIAMI – Delta Air Lines (DL) Pilots have agreed to cost-cutting measures that will prevent furloughs until 2022, their labor union confirmed Wednesday. The two parties have been engaged in negotiations for months, with DL being one of the last major US-based airlines to reach an agreement with its Pilots.

The deal came down to the wire, as over 1,700 pilots would have been furloughed at the end of this week if a deal hadn’t been reached. The plan won 74% approval with close to 13,000 Pilots, according to the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA).

In late September, DL announced that it would not be laying off any of its US-based flight attendants or ground crew. The Skyteam alliance member secured a US$6.5bn loan against it’s ‘Skymiles’ Rewards Program, guaranteeing the financial future of the airline.

North America’s second-largest airline announced a daily cash burn of USD$18m per day in the month of September, and has been looking for every possible way to reduce costs and maximize the workforce. DL has turned to workforce innovation techniques such as cross-department training during the latter half of 2020.

Delta Mcdonnell Douglas MD-88. PHOTO: Luca Flores/Airways

Details of the Agreement

As a result of Wednesdays agreement, DL can reduce pilot’s guaranteed flight hours by up to 5%. Additionally, the 1,713 pilot set to be furloughed on November 28th will receive 30 hours per month in partial pay, medical benefits and vacation accrual. For those affected, this agreement will run until 2022, or until they can return in full capacity–whichever comes first.

Delta COO John Laughter was optimistic about the conclusion of the deal. “We are grateful to keep all our pilots actively employed and provide stability for you and your families”, he said in a note to pilots on Wednesday.

The holiday season is expected to be turbulent for the airline industry as COVID-19 cases continue to reach record numbers in the US. The Center for Disease Control issued a guideline for holiday travel, recommending Americans to “celebrate at home with the people you live with.”

Despite this, Laughter remained upbeat about the coming months. “There is still much to be thankful for, and by working together we continue to maintain and grow a loyal customer base that feels confident choosing Delta time and again for our safety, reliability and service.”

Featured Image: Delta Airbus A330-300. PHOTO: Nicholas Vitolano/Airways