SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Pilots with Delta Airlines picketing at the Salt Lake International Airport on Thursday over stalled contract negotiations and strained pilot schedules.
Off-duty pilots across the nation will be demonstrating at major Delta hubs including airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Seattle and Salt Lake City.
Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), the union representing Delta’s 13,900 pilots says pilots are currently flying under work rules and pay rates negotiated over six years ago in 2016. Contracts were meant to be renegotiated, but were paused during the pandemic before resuming in January 2022.
“It’s been two-and-a-half years since our contract became amendable and three-and-a-half years since the Delta pilots last had a pay raise,” says Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC). “Meanwhile, our quality of life has eroded due to management’s unwillingness to schedule the airline properly.”
Pilots are seeking a number of improvements including pay, retirement, job protections and what the union says are much-needed changes to pilot schedules.
“When delays or cancellations happen, the pilots share in our passengers’ frustration,” says Ambrosi. “As long-term stakeholders in our airline, seeing our operational reliability suffer is bad business and puts the Delta brand at risk.”
Back in April 2022, Delta Airline pilots held a rally over the company’s scheduling practices which they say forced pilots to endure “long and often fatiguing trips.”
“Delta pilots were frontline leaders during COVID and the recovery,” says Ambrosi. “We have helped our airline recover by flying record amounts of overtime and spending more time away from our families than ever before to get our customers safely to their destinations. It’s time for management to recognize our contributions. If Delta can invest billions in foreign airlines and its subsidiaries, it must invest similarly in its pilots.”
Officials remain concerned over travel disruptions as the July 4 weekend is predicted to see a record number of travelers this year.
The union says Delta Airlines canceled more flights than any other major airline over Memorial Day weekend this year.
“We’re now going into the Independence Day Holiday weekend and are concerned that our customers’ plans have already been disrupted once again,” added Ambrosi. “The perfect storm is occurring. Demand is back, and pilots are flying record amounts of overtime but we are still seeing management canceling, leaving our customers stranded and their holiday plans ruined. Unfortunately, this mismanagement continues. And it extends to a complete lack of urgency to resolve our issues at the negotiating table.”
The picketing pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) which is currently the world’s largest pilot union representing over 65,000 pilots across 40 airlines in the U.S.
“Our goal is to achieve an industry-leading contract. But if management doesn’t get serious, we’ll go the distance to get the contract we deserve,” says Ambrosi.