Delta pilots union reaches deal to avoid furloughs

The pilots union at Delta Air Lines said it has reached an agreement in principle with the company to avoid furloughs for more than a year.

The deal would allow Delta to reduce pilots' guaranteed pay by 5%. In exchange, the Atlanta-based company would agree not to furlough pilots until Jan. 1, 2022.

However, the 1,941 pilots that would have been furloughed would get roughly only a third of regular pay while not working.

The two sides had been working to reach a deal before a Nov. 1 deadline, when those pilots would have been furloughed.

The contract language is yet to be finalized. Once it is, it will become a tentative agreement to be reviewed by the union leadership and put up for a vote by Delta’s roughly 14,000 pilots. Delta said it will delay the effective date of furloughs until Nov. 28, to allow time for pilots to vote on the agreement.

The Air Line Pilots Association at Delta said it had “diligently sought creative solutions with Delta" in negotiations.

Delta’s senior vice president John Laughter said in a memo to pilots Thursday evening that the agreement allows Delta “to generate much needed savings through a path to help avoid furloughs.”

As part of the deal, the union said Delta also would make some improvements in pilot schedules and establish a plan for pilots to save extra money for retirement with tax savings.

Delta last month said it would be able to avoid furloughs for flight attendants and ground workers in the U.S. because of buyouts, early retirements and other cost-cutting measures. The pilots were the last employee group at the airline facing the threat of furloughs.

The pilots' agreement in principle includes a provision that if a federal CARES Act extension under the same terms as the original stimulus deal is approved, the agreement will pause.