When October 1 arrives (just 75 days from today), Delta and other airlines that accepted Federal stimulus money will be free to do whatever is necessary to survive. And that includes furloughing staff whose jobs were protected to the end of September by the terms of the pandemic aid packages they accepted.
The Atlanta-based carrier operates a major hub at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), so any staff reductions will be felt far beyond the airport, and will undoubtedly affect the Minnesota economy. United Airlines, which is in the same predicament and has predicted as many as 25,000 layoffs systemwide, has already indicated that 75 MSP employees will likely lose their jobs in the fall.
Delta this past week proposed a 15% pilot’s minimum pay cut, with the assurance of no pilot furloughs for a full year. The airline earlier advised the pilot’s union, the Airline Pilot’s Association, that as many as 2,500 cockpit crew could be furloughed without the needed concessions. There are currently 14,000 Delta pilots, but with the world’s airlines shrinking and restructuring due to flights shutdown caused by the coronavirus, that number is sure to be reduced in the coming years. The same is certainly the expectation at most U.S. airlines and those in other countries. This is especially true of airlines like Delta, American and United, who for the time being are unable, due to EU restrictions, to offer flights between the U.S. and Europe.
To-date, more than 1,700 Delta pilots have opted for early retirement packages which have been offered to employees in a multitude of positions, with tomorrow, July 19, being the offer’s deadline. With COVID19 growing exponentially across the U.S., the hoped for air travel recovery will be slower than anticipated. Delta has cut in half the number of added flights for August, with 500 being added instead of the 1,000 initially projected.
According to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, more than 17,000 employees have agreed to buyouts or early retirement, but with a total of 90,000 staff worldwide, they are “unfortunately still overstaffed in some areas of the business.”