Delta asks pi­lots to take pay cuts to avoid lay­offs

Chicago Sun-Times - - BUSINESS -

AT­LANTA — Delta Air Lines is ask­ing pi­lots to take a 15% cut in min­i­mum guar­an­teed pay for one year, say­ing that could help the air­line avoid lay­offs when fed­eral pay­roll aid runs out in Oc­to­ber.

An ex­ec­u­tive said in a memo to pi­lots Fri­day that Delta must shrink be­cause of a steep drop caused by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. John Laugh­ter, Delta’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of flight op­er­a­tions, said the air­line’s ap­proach “is to spread the work of a smaller air­line among all our pi­lots to pre­serve all jobs.”

The Air Line Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion said the pro­posal was pre­ma­ture. The union said Delta should first see how well vol­un­tary mea­sures work, such as em­ploy­ees tak­ing par­tially paid leave. The union was also up­set that Delta went di­rectly to its mem­bers to de­scribe a pro­posal that ap­par­ently was made to union ne­go­tia­tors ear­lier this week.

Separately, the same union reached an agree­ment with United Air­lines on buy­outs and leaves of ab­sence aimed at re­duc­ing the need for fur­loughs. The agree­ments now go to pi­lots for ap­proval.

Last week, United sent warn­ings to 2,250 pi­lots that their jobs could be elim­i­nated in Oc­to­ber, when the air­line’s $5 bil­lion in fed­eral pay­roll aid ends. Union of­fi­cial Todd Insler said there could be more such notices next year.

The Delta pro­posal and re­sponse from the union il­lus­trate the pres­sure fac­ing air­lines and their em­ploy­ees as a hoped-for re­cov­ery in air travel seems to be stalling.

“We don’t ex­pect to see mea­sur­able im­prove­ment un­til the U.S. in­fec­tion rates fall again,” Laugh­ter said. Delta has al­ready scaled back a plan to add more flights in Au­gust — it will add 500 in­stead of 1,000. Other air­lines are also trim­ming growth plans.

AP FILE PHOTO

The pi­lots’ union says Delta Air Lines’ re­quest for pay cuts is pre­ma­ture.

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