Delta Air Lines and the union that represents its pilots have reached a preliminary cost-cutting agreement that would avoid furloughs until Jan. 1, 2022, the union said Thursday.
The agreement still needs approval from Delta's nearly 13,000 pilots. The agreement would reduce monthly minimum guaranteed hours by 5% and give partial pay of 30 hours a month to the pilots who received furlough notices and who won't have to fly, the union said. Delta in August warned it could furlough 1,941 pilots in the fall. Airline employees who are furloughed generally retain rights to be recalled by the company, but given the industry's downturn in the pandemic, it's not clear when that could be.
The agreement comes as U.S. airlines facing mounting financial losses, which topped $11 billion in the third quarter.
American Airlines and United Airlines earlier this month started furloughing more than 30,000 employees. Carriers were prohibited from cutting jobs until Oct. 1 under the terms of $25 billion in federal aid for the sector. Airlines are seeking additional aid but the White House and Congress have been unable to reach an agreement on an additional coronavirus stimulus package.
The Atlanta-based carrier has said its other frontline workers like flight attendants escaped furloughs thanks to some 18,000 employees, roughly a fifth of its pre-pandemic staff, who opted to take buyouts, while thousands of others took unpaid leave. Delta had postponed planned pilot furloughs until Nov. 1 as negotiations continued with pilots.
"While this agreement is still subject to approval by the [union's executive council], we are confident this can help Delta to be better positioned through the long and choppy COVID-19 pandemic recovery," said John Laughter, Delta's chief of operations in a note to employees.
Delta said it would delay the furlough effective date until Nov. 28. to allow pilots to vote on the plan.