No Delta flight attendants or ground-based front-line workers will be furloughed when payroll support protection funds expire at the end of this month, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a companywide memo Tuesday.
In the memo, he said their jobs were saved by employees who took early retirement and other voluntary leave packages.
“We had an enormous response to the enhanced early retirement and departure packages that were offered this summer, with 20% of our people choosing voluntary exits,” Bastian said. “While it is difficult to see so many of our colleagues leave, every one of those departures helped save Delta jobs.”
Bastian cautioned, “We still expect an overage of pilots as of Oct. 1.”
Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant told USA TODAY that 1,941 pilots face potential layoffs.
The Delta Master Executive Council, which represents the airline’s 13,000 pilots within the Air Line Pilots Association, confirmed it was working with executives but took issue with part of Bastian’s memo.
“Protecting pilot jobs remains ALPA’s priority,” the group said in a statement provided by spokesperson Karen Miller. “The Delta pilots were the first employee group to offer voluntary measures in March that would have saved the company millions of dollars. Management chose not to implement these voluntary measures although such cost-savings measures were adopted at other major carriers.”
ALPA said it was active in negotiating the program for 1,800 Delta pilots who took early retirement. Most did so Sept. 1.
“Pilots are career-long stakeholders in Delta Air Lines, and as such, we are motivated to help the Company while still upholding our core value of protecting pilot jobs,” the union said. “We are in ongoing talks with management to mitigate pilot furloughs with the goal of finding win/win solutions.”
Airline workers across the industry hope Congress comes up with a deal to extend the Payroll Support Plan and save their jobs before that part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act expires Sept. 30.
Last week, the Senate voted down a pared-back, Republican-led $300 million aid package that did not contain any airline aid. It’s hoped that the Senate and House of Representatives, which returned from recess Monday, can reach an agreement on a new relief plan before the election. Even if such a deal is struck, that does not guarantee new aid for the airlines.
Bastian remained optimistic about the pilots’ situation, writing, “There still is time to mitigate this potential furlough and discussions are ongoing with the pilots’ union as we continue to look for ways to cost-effectively reduce or eliminate this number.”