Delta pilots union reaches deal offering pilots time off at reduced pay

FILE PHOTO: Delta Air Lines has announced that it is laying off more than 800 contract employees due to the coronavirus. (BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images)

Credit: BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images

Credit: BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images

The pilots union at Delta Air Lines has reached a deal to offer pilots time off at reduced pay.

The Air Line Pilots Association at Delta struck the agreement as the Atlanta-based airline cuts its flights by 40% due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Delta is also offering other employees, who are not unionized, the option to take 30-day, 60-day or 90-day unpaid leave while retaining their full benefits and better travel privileges including confirmed flights.

And the airline has cut contractor positions, including 800 contractors in technical and support groups who will no longer have work assignments at Delta. Those people can be placed in other positions in contractor work support firm AgileOne’s network, according to Delta.

The agreement means Delta pilots will be able to bid on schedules for May and June that pay a reduced amount of 55 hours and do not require them to fly. Due to flight cancellations, pilots could be removed from their regular flying schedules.

Along with the reduced pay option, the pilots union also reached an agreement on provisions for sick pay for pilots who are diagnosed with COVID-19, are required to quarantine or decide to self-quarantine.

"We are living in unprecedented times," said Delta pilots union chairman Ryan Schnitzler in a memo to the airline's pilots. While the union is in ongoing negotiations with the company on a long-term labor contract, "we must deal with the crisis at hand — helping our Company mitigate the effects of COVID-19 while protecting our pilots."

The union leadership held an emergency conference call Friday during which Delta announced its plans to cut flying by 40%, eliminate nearly all of its flying to Europe and park 300 planes.

The airline had asked the pilots union for assistance to help mitigate the effects of the cutbacks, and issued a statement thanking the union's leadership for its collaboration.

Due to the urgency, the union leaders said they decided to agree to the terms, without putting it up for a vote by the union membership, and voted to approve it unanimously effective immediately.

Delta is also substantially reducing its use of contract workers and consultants.

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