Negotiations for a new Delta pilots contract started in 2019, but were halted during the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed in early 2022.
The pilots union last year picketed at airports, and Delta pilots in October voted to authorize their leaders to call a strike if necessary.
But the tentative agreement signals progress toward a new contract.
According to terms released with the agreement in principle, Delta pilots would get a one-time payment after the deal is approved equivalent to 14% of their pay last year plus 4% of their pay for each of the previous two years. And, the agreement would ensure Delta pilots would have pay rates at least 1% higher than pilot pay at United Airlines and American Airlines.
Delta on Friday reported a $1.3 billion profit for 2022, reaping the benefits of a strong rebound in travel and high air fares paid by consumers clamoring to return to the skies. Delta said the tentative agreement language finalized by company and union negotiating teams is for a new pilot contract “that recognizes the contributions of our pilots to Delta’s success.”
The pilots agreement would also bring improvements in holiday pay, vacation, 401(k) contributions and work rules. And it would allow pilots 10 weeks of paid maternity leave, two weeks of paid parental leave and reduced medical insurance premiums.
The union said that overall, the agreement would improve the value of the contract by 45%. The union’s negotiating committee last month called it a “generational improvement” to their labor contract.
The deal would also further restrict Delta’s use of regional jets, a form of outsourcing with regional carriers operating flights flown by lower-paid pilots.
The Delta pilots union leadership will meet next week to discuss the tentative agreement.
If they approve it, the union will hold road shows to explain the labor deal to pilots before a ratification vote is completed.