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Delta pilots approve cost-cutting measures to avoid furloughs until 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 pilots voted in favor of pay cuts that would avoid furloughs until 2022 as the industry reels from the coronavirus pandemic, their labor union said Wednesday.

The deal allows the company to lower pilots' guaranteed hours by as much 5%. The more than 1,700 pilots that would have been furloughed by the Atlanta-based airline at the end of the month will get partial pay of 30 hours a month and will not have to fly. The plan won 74% approval, said the union, which represents Delta's close to 13,000 pilots.

U.S. airlines have shed more than 70,000 jobs this year — more than 30,000 involuntary cuts at American and United — and tens of thousands of voluntary departures. The country's carriers have lost more than $20 billion in the last two quarters and have scrambled to cut costs as the virus keeps many potential customers from flying.

Delta has avoided involuntary furloughs thanks to the deal and the thousands of employees that accepted buyouts and voluntary leaves of absence. Delta has also cut ground workers' hours by 25%.

Southwest Airlines is negotiating with several of its unions on cost-cutting and other measures that it has said could prevent its first involuntary furloughs in its nearly 50 years of flying.


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