Delta pays out record profit sharing, including $541 million to Atlanta employees

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines on Friday paid out $1.5 billion in profit sharing to employees, including $541 million to its 33,000 employees in Atlanta.

It's the largest employee profit sharing payment in U.S. history, according to Delta CEO Richard Anderson and incoming CEO Ed Bastian in a memo to employees. The payouts amount to 21.4 percent of eligible annual pay, according to the company.

The payouts come after Delta reported a $4.5 billion profit for 2015.

Delta is holding profit-sharing celebrations across its operations Friday, with a 50-foot tall greeting card including the names of the airline's 80,000 employees erected at its headquarters near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

"It is the most important day of the year for Delta," Anderson and Bastian wrote in their memo.

The company gave 14.5 percent pay raises to its employees last year, but is reducing its formula for profit sharing in the future.