“We’re just going to be doing it earlier in the year, getting us prepared for next year sooner,” Bastian said. “We’re going to be increasing pilot staffing.”
According to the union, the number of pilots calling in fatigued has increased 65 percent year-over-year.
“We’re behind the power curve.... Let’s get the staffing right,” said Karen Miller, a spokeswoman for the Air Line Pilots Association at Delta. “You have to have a cadre of pilots up and running” before summer 2020.
But with pilots in high demand and not enough pilots at the smaller regional carriers that feed into the larger airlines, "it's going to be difficult," Riggins acknowledged.
The issue arises as the pilots are in contract negotiations with Delta. Talks started earlier this year, with the Delta pilots' current labor contract becoming amendable at the end of this year.