The Air Line Pilots Association union at Delta said its focus on negotiations is on preserving pilot jobs through “creative solutions.” The delay of furloughs “will provide time as we continue to lobby for a clean extension of the CARES Act and the Payroll Support Program and resume our negotiations with Delta,” the union said in a statement.
Airlines and unions have both been lobbying for a six-month extension of CARES Act relief funding for aviation, which Congress passed in March with $25 billion for passenger airlines, including $5.4 billion for Delta, and $4 billion for cargo carriers. On Tuesday, Delta pilots and flight attendants and other airline workers rallied for an extension of the funding in front of the Terminus building in Buckhead where U.S. Sen. David Perdue has an office. Perdue signed onto the Air Carrier Worker Support Extension Act this week.
U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have introduced a bill to extend the Payroll Support Program for airline workers through March 2021. However, the current funding and limits on employee furloughs expire Sept. 30. It’s yet to be seen if such legislation would be approved before then.
Delta’s competitors United and American have announced that they may need to furlough thousands of employees.
Laughter wrote in his memo that negotiating with the pilots union supports the airline’s goal “to make it through this prolonged recovery without involuntary furloughs."
“While we’re also watching the progress of the possible CARES Act extension, it is important that we reach an agreement now that spreads the work of approximately 12,000 active pilots across a network schedule that in Summer 2021 only requires about 9,500 pilots to fly it," he wrote. He added that a recovery will take longer than six months, “so sharing the available work is the only way to avoid furloughs altogether.”