DALLAS – Delta Air Lines (DL) pilots addressed an open letter to customers, describing the significant number of recent flight delays, cancellations, and cuts as “unacceptable” and stating that they were flying a record amount of overtime.
On May 26, DL announced that from July 1 to August 7, it would restrict its services by around 100 daily flights. On Thursday, the airline amended the announcement, noting that weekend cancellations had decreased by 35% since May and that it was employing more pilots and staff and starting the boarding process earlier.
Delta also stated it would continue to change flights as part of a plan to “strategically reduce our flight schedule this summer” in order to “increase system resilience and improve operational reliability.” With the flight cuts, DL has joined a slew of other airlines in canceling large numbers of flights this summer, citing staffing shortages caused by the pandemic as the cause.
However, the Hill reports that the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the world’s largest pilot union, denied that there was a staffing crisis, claiming in a June 7 press release that the airlines were promoting false allegations of “a dearth of available pilots” in order to undermine safety requirements for profit.
“The United States is producing a record number of pilots, yet some are still trying to claim we need to weaken aviation safety rules to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” said ALPA president Capt. Joe DePete in a statement. According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 8,000 new pilots were qualified in the previous 12 months, according to ALPA.
Delta Air Lines Chief of Operations John Laughter said in a statement on Thursday that recovering from the pandemic has been difficult, adding that the airline had never had to bring back its operations at this speed.
Delta pilots, on the other hand, chastised the company’s management in the open letter, which reads as follows:
The Open Letter
To Our Valued Customers:
The Delta pilots take pride in the reliability and the service that defines Delta Air Lines. We are disheartened when we witness the impact of your disrupted travel plans. As you travel with us this summer and beyond, we ask you to please remember the following:
- Delta pilots will continue to prioritize safety – every day and on every flight.
- We have been working on our days off, flying a record amount of overtime to help you get to your destination. At the current rate, by this fall, our pilots will have flown more overtime in 2022 than in the entirety of 2018 and 2019 combined, our busiest years to date.
- We empathize and share in your frustration over the delays, cancellations, and disrupted travel plans you’ve experienced. We agree; it is unacceptable.
As we welcome you aboard, we will continue to go above and beyond to ensure the integrity of the operation. Delta’s management needs to do the same before you lose confidence in the Delta brand.
The Pilots of Delta Air Lines
Do you agree with Delta’s pilot’s assessment of the situation, or is the airline doing the right thing by reducing its flight schedule, a move replicated by other airlines? Be sure to share your comments on our social media channels.
Featured image: N504DN Delta Air Lines Airbus A350-900. Photo: Tony Bordelais/Airways