Employees can sign up starting June 10 through July 13, with most departures expected to take effect Aug. 1.
Bastian wrote that Delta will have to be a smaller airline with fewer people, adding that "furloughs are a last resort, and it is our top priority to avoid them if at all possible."
As a condition of accepting federal airline stimulus funding through the CARES Act, Delta is barred from involuntary furloughs through Sept. 30. But many industry observers expect airlines will need to scale back their work forces considerably, and may take steps to do so starting in October if necessary.
“The only thing we can be sure of today is that the more people choose to depart voluntarily, the greater our chances for avoiding furloughs this fall,” Bastian wrote in the employee memo.
The company is also in discussions with its pilots union on an early retirement program for pilots.
Bastian wrote that “we simply don’t know” how small Delta will need to become.
Bastian noted that Latin American carrier LATAM, which Delta owns a 20% stake in, filed for bankruptcy protection this week. He said Delta remains committed to its partnership with LATAM, with which it signed a joint venture agreement earlier this month.
Some work previously handled by contractors has been brought back in house to be handled by Delta employees. Flight attendants are assembling snack kits for passengers. Delta employees are also handling new tasks like cleaning security checkpoint bins at Hartsfield-Jackson and sanitizing aircraft cabins.