By Vanni Gibertini
Delta Air Lines’ Pilots Ready to Strike For Better Pay
As airlines in North America are shrugging off the horrible months of the pandemic and balance sheets start looking rosier again, all the issues that had been put aside to survive the most devastating crisis commercial aviation has ever encountered are now resurfacing and calling for a solution.
On Oct. 31, the overwhelming majority of pilots at Delta Air Lines voted in favor of a strike. According to a statement from ALPA, the Air Line Pilots Association, 96 percent of pilots participated in the ballot and 99 percent of them voted to authorize a strike as a negotiation weapon in the talks about the new pay conditions for cockpit crew at the Atlanta-based carrier.
The current working conditions were negotiated in 2016 and discussions to renegotiate them were started in April 2019 before they were suspended due to the pandemic.
“Today, Delta’s nearly 15,000 pilots sent a clear message to management that we are willing to go the distance to secure a contract that reflects the value we bring to Delta Air Lines as frontline leaders and long-term stakeholders,” Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta Master Executive Council said. “Delta has rebounded from the pandemic and is poised to be stronger than ever, posting record revenues for the third quarter. Meanwhile, our negotiations have dragged on for too long. Our goal is to reach an agreement, not to strike. The ball is in management’s court. It’s time for the Company to get serious at the bargaining table and invest in the Delta pilots.”
A few weeks ago Delta released its quarterly report for Q3 2022 announcing a 3 percent increase in revenue over Q3 2019 for a total $12.8 billion in operating revenue. The operating income was confirmed at $1.5 billion for the quarter generating an operating margin of 11.6 percent. Net profit remains at $695 million though, considerably lower than the $1.5 billion recorded in 2019.
Forecasts for the final quarter of the year are even rosier, with operating margins expected to remain between 9 and 11 percent, but total revenue is expected to increase 5 to 9 percent over the corresponding period in 2019.
Operations will continue as normal for the time being, as rules impose the intervention of the National Mediation Board (NMB) when a strike vote is cast. Its role is to understand whether there is enough margin to reach an agreement between the parties or whether a strike is the only way forward. Furthermore, if any of the two parties reject arbitration, there needs to be a 30-day “cooling off” period before any of the parties can engage in any type of unilateral action.