Delta and pilot union reach preliminary deal to avoid furloughs until 2022

A pilot talks on a mobile device near a Delta Air Lines gate at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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 early 13,000 pilots. The agreement would it would reduce monthly minimum guaranteed hours by 5%. The company had planned to furlough up to 1,941 pilots. 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.

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.

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, opted to take buyouts, while thousands of others took unpaid leave. Delta had postponed planned furloughs until Nov. 1 as negotiations continued with pilots.

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