Pointers at Glance
- The pilots union said that Delta Air Lines is getting closer to a labor deal with pilots, marking a significant improvement in a relationship that turned icy during years-long negotiations.
- A preliminary deal in 2022 would clear the main hurdle for Delta.
- Other carriers, including rivals, have also been unable to reach new labor deals.
- Contract talks were derailed during the pandemic since travel demand plunged and carriers booked record losses.
Airlines are profitable again, but negotiations have remained challenging throughout the industry. Delta, American, United, FedEx, and Southwest pilots have picketed to demand better pay and schedules in recent months. Passenger airline pilots questioned the poor quality of life from repeated flight changes and grueling schedules.
The Air Line Pilots Association said in a memo to Delta aviators that while it is unclear exactly what the catalyst was for management’s movement toward their asks this past week, it was decisively the highly productive week of negotiations since talks opened over three years ago.
Delta pilots voted overwhelmingly to authorize a potential strike if contract talks do not lead to an agreement. Captain Jason Ambrosi, head of the pilots’ union, said in a statement that the overwhelming approval of the strike authorization ballot sent a resounding message to management that the Delta pilots will go far in these negotiations.
The union said some crucial issues are still pending, like compensation and retirement packages, but it was upbeat.
The union said a complete agreement in principle might be reached at an upcoming session. But it told management would need to continue showing the motivation that resulted in progress this past week. Delta declined to comment.
Other labor groups are still in talks. Off-duty United pilots on 22nd November plan to demonstrate at the carrier’s Denver flight training center, while American Airlines flight attendants around the US also plan to picket for a new contract.