Delta continues talks with pilots union on cost cuts

Delta pilots arrive from Stuttgart in the International Terminal at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport earlier this month. The proposed $2 trillion aid package being worked on in Congress has billions for the airline industries. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
Delta pilots arrive from Stuttgart in the International Terminal at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport earlier this month. The proposed $2 trillion aid package being worked on in Congress has billions for the airline industries. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Delta Air Lines is continuing talks with its pilots union on cost cuts to reduce or avoid the need to furlough pilots.

A total of 1,806 pilots are taking early retirement packages from the airline, with most leaving the company Sept. 1, according to a Friday memo from Delta senior vice president of flight operations John Laughter.

More than 2,000 pilots initially applied for the early out packages, but some of them chose to withdraw their applications.

Delta said “furloughs remain a last resort” and management is looking for a way to “spread the flying among the pilots to reduce or avoid furloughs altogether.”

Since late March, Delta has been trying to negotiate with the union for a reduction of pilots’ guaranteed pay, which could amount to an involuntary pay cut.

The pilots union said it has proposed voluntary measures to save the company money and prevent furloughs, and its negotiating committee is meeting with management.

Delta has already sent notices to 2,258 pilots warning them that they could be furloughed.

Beyond pilots, more than 17,000 other Delta employees are taking buyouts or early retirements. More than 41,000 volunteered for temporary unpaid leave.

The pilots union said Delta could send furlough notices to pilots as early as Sept. 1, but the union wants to protect those jobs.

“We call upon management to negotiate measures that will keep our most junior pilots on the property,” said Chris Riggins, a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association at Delta, in a written statement.

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