Delta pays out 5.6% profit sharing bonuses to employees

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Delta Air Lines is paying out bonuses to employees amounting to about 5.6% of their annual pay, marking a return to the company’s profit sharing payouts that drew envy from workers at other companies in the pre-pandemic era.

The profit-sharing, which Atlanta-based Delta traditionally distributes to its employees on Valentine’s Day, amounts to a total payout by the company of $563 million. That includes $245 million paid out to more than 40,000 employees in Georgia.

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That’s not nearly as large as the payouts of more than $1 billion a year from the airline for profits made in the years 2014-2019.

But profit sharing, as employees painfully learned over the last couple of years, is “at-risk” pay that disappears when the company’s finances take a hit.

The last big profit-sharing bonus Delta distributed was a $1.6 billion payout in February 2020 — equivalent to nearly two months of pay for each employee, or 16.6% of annual pay.

Just two months later in 2020, Delta’s fortunes turned sour as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and air travel plummeted by about 95% in mid-April. That year, the airline struggled to stay afloat, relying on billions of dollars in federal aid.

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Delta employees saw their hours and pay cut by 25% or more. More than 40,000 Delta employees took unpaid leave and the company slashed its workforce through buyouts and early retirements. The company lost $12 billion in 2020 and as a result did not pay out profit-sharing bonuses to employees in 2021.

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Delta also lost money in 2021, but still opted to pay out a smaller bonus of $625 or $1,250 to each employee in early 2022.

This year’s profit sharing bonus comes after Delta reported a $1.3 billion profit for 2022.

“Delta employees rose to the challenges of 2022,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a written statement.

Delta flight attendants and ground employees are also getting a 5% pay increase this coming April. That follows a 4% raise they received in May 2022.

Delta pilots, who have gone four years without raises, are voting on a new contract that would come with an initial 18% pay increase.