Delta and pilot union attain preliminary deal to keep away from furloughs till 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 January 1, 2022, the union said Thursday.

The agreement still needs approval from Delta’s early 13,000 pilots. While it would reduce their schedules, it would save nearly 2,000 of them from losing their jobs. 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 will 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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