Delta Air Lines passenger aircraft are parked due to flight reductions designed to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, March 25, 2020.
Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters
Delta Air Lines plans to send messages next week to warn more than 2,500 pilots of possible vacations. This emerges from a company report released by CNBC on Friday.
The airline and the union, representing the airline's more than 14,000 pilots, have reached an agreement on an early retirement option. This is a step towards reducing the number of employees, since the corona virus continues to burden the demand for air travel.
"As we said earlier, early retirement alone is unlikely to be enough to avoid overall pilot vacations," said John Laughter, senior vice president of flight operations for Delta, Memo.
He said that despite a recent increase in the number of travelers, demand has remained weak.
"With this in mind, and given that we haven't known the results of the early exit for a few weeks, we need to move forward to address the overcrowding of the pilots," he said. "To prepare our pilots in the best possible way, we will send notices to 2,558 pilots next week, as required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (the" WARNing Act ") to inform them of a possible vacation."
Pilots can apply for the voluntary early retirement program early next month. Accepted persons will be informed of this by August 4 at the latest. This emerges from a union report that was sent to members on Friday and was also reviewed by CNBC. About 7,900 pilots could retire early, said Laughter.
Airlines are trying to cut their wages as the pandemic keeps many travelers at home and drives the industry to its first losses in years. Demand has recovered somewhat from the lows of more than five decades in April, but remains a fraction of the norm.
"While it is encouraging that the flights are returning, we expect our total demand this summer to be only 25 percent of last summer's sales, and we will likely be at least two years away from returning to normal," said Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, note on a Thursday staff.
High-income international flights, which the airlines have largely cut, are particularly affected because a slump in business travel and travel restrictions have made many of these routes impossible. Some of the highest paid pilots fly planes that are used for these routes.
Pilots who choose to retire early would be paid 58 hours a month until they reach the age of 65 or 36 months, whichever is earlier, the union said. The company would also cover health insurance premiums for up to two years and travel benefits for one year.
Delta, the least unionized of the four largest unionized airlines, offered early retirement and acquisitions to other employees last month. American, Southwest and United have introduced similar voluntary measures for their employees to reduce costs.
The $ 25 billion state payroll condition prohibits airlines from firing or lowering employee wage rates until September 30.
Airline executives have stated that they want to take voluntary action before committing to involuntary layoffs or vacations.
Unions representing flight attendants, pilots, mechanics and other airline workers asked Thursday for more billions of dollars in aid to protect their jobs by the end of March 2021.