Delta pilots union says management wants to cut unspecified number of pilot jobs

By Harry R. Weber, Gaea News Network
Saturday, May 9, 2009

Union: Delta wants to cut pilot jobs

ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines Inc., the world’s biggest airline operator, wants to cut an unspecified number of pilot jobs through a program that would give pilots an incentive to retire, according to a memo issued by the pilots union Friday.

Lee Moak, chairman of the pilots union’s executive committee, said the pilot retirement incentive program would be “designed to address what management perceives to be a current pilot staffing overage.”

Under the terms of the proposal, active pilots who have met certain age and length-of-service metrics would be eligible to participate in the program, Moak said. Participating pilots would receive a severance payment, medical and dental benefits for a limited period of time and retiree travel benefits, he said.

Moak did not provide other details of the program, nor did he say how many pilot jobs Atlanta-based Delta hoped to cut. He said union officials would negotiate with Delta management with the goal of reaching a tentative agreement.

“If an agreement is reached and ratified, the decision to participate would belong to eligible pilots,” Moak said.

Airlines have been struggling to fill their seats amid the deep economic downturn in the U.S. and other countries.

Delta said in a statement that it “continues to take every step possible to avoid involuntary reductions of frontline employees as a result of current economic conditions.”

The airline has cut other staff through voluntary severance programs. Delta said that in addition to those programs previously offered, it is working cooperatively with the Air Line Pilots Association “to ensure we have any flexibility needed as we adjust capacity to demand.”

Delta acquired Northwest Airlines last October and together, the two carriers have more than 12,000 pilots.

The two groups of pilots have already resolved seniority list integration and have agreed to a joint contract.

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