Delta Plans to Furlough Almost 2,000 Pilots Come October

Delta Air Lines said Monday it will have to furlough almost 2,000 pilots in a cost restructuring move the carrier said was part of the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are six months into this pandemic and only 25 percent of our revenues have been recovered,” John Laughter, Delta’s senior vice president of flight operations said in a memo to pilots, which was seen by CNBC. Laughter said the airline doesn’t expect a quick turnaround in demand.

Delta will furlough 1,941 pilots in October, when the restrictions on pay cuts and furloughs that were part of the CARES Act expire on Oct. 1 – unless it can reach a cost-cutting agreement with the employees’ labor union.

Earlier this year, Delta told more than 2,500 pilots it might have to furlough them. More than 1,800 pilots took early retirement packages, but Laughter said that’s still not enough.

“With approximately 11,200 active pilots still on the roster following the September 1 [voluntary early retirement] departures, we are simply overstaffed,” he said. “We are faced with an incredibly difficult decision.

Laughter said letters would be going out this week to pilots hired on or after July 17, 2017. Delta last month said remaining pilots could avoid furloughs altogether with a 15 percent pay cut.

“While we should be talking about real solutions to save jobs, Delta’s most junior pilots are facing unnecessary career uncertainty when ALPA has offered countless voluntary options to management to prevent furloughs from occurring,” Air Line Pilots Association union spokesman and Delta first officer Chris Riggins said in a statement. “It’s not too late for management to complete discussions at the bargaining table and help mitigate the need to furlough.”

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