Delta pilots are in line for huge pay rises worth billions of dollars if they agree to a new contract, report says
- After years of negotiations, Delta reached a preliminary agreement with its pilots' union, per Reuters.
- The "agreement-in-principle" promises pay rises of more than 30% over a three-year period.
Delta Air Lines has reached a preliminary agreement with its pilots' union that would offer pay rises of more than 30% over three years.
Pilots will receive an initial pay rise of 18% upon signing the contract, then a subsequent increase of 5% after one year, and a 4% yearly increase in the following two years.
The "agreement-in-principle," seen by Reuters, still requires final approval by the Air Line Pilots Association and its members before being implemented.
Delta's contract would be one of the first brought in by a major airline since the pandemic struck. Alaska Airlines finalized a new agreement in October and is the only other US carrier to update its pilots' contracts.
During the pandemic, pilots struggled to secure better pay and conditions, but post-pandemic travel has caused a surge in demand for crew.
The milestone agreement follows tense negotiations. Frustrations have been building among Delta's pilots, who have worked without a new contract for almost three years since their old contract expired in December 2019.
In October, Delta pilots represented by the Air Line Pilots Association voted overwhelmingly to strike.
According to CNBC, the new draft agreement could help drive up pilots' pay across the industry. This could make fares more expensive as salaries and fuel are already airlines' biggest expenses.
Pilot unions have been able to flex their muscle this year as airlines scrambled to meet surging demand following a pandemic-related slump. Delta's agreement could pressure American Airlines and United Airlines to resolve roadblocks with their pilots.
In the draft agreement seen by Reuters, Delta promises that its pilots will get paid at least 1% more than their counterparts at United and American.
The Air Line Pilots Association said in a memo seen by Reuters that the proposed deal represents more than $7.2 billion of cumulative value increases over the next four years.
It's not just about pay — roughly a quarter of this sum is tied to quality-of-life improvements. These have been central to recent tensions, as unions complain that their members are grappling with exhausting schedules after travel bounced back faster than anticipated, leaving airlines facing widespread staffing shortages.
A spokesperson for Delta told Insider: "We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle for a new pilot contract, one that recognizes the contributions of our pilots to Delta's success. We appreciate the work of the negotiating teams and the mediator in reaching this agreement in principle."
The Air Line Pilots Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
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