The Air Line Pilots Association, the union representing Delta pilots, said staff cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic and travel cancellations “have left fewer pilots qualified and ready to fly in fleets seeing increased demand.” during this holiday. ”
Delta said Wednesday that “a number of factors have hampered our ability to hire staff on some of our scheduled vacation flights on time,”
Following the distribution of employee schedules last November, Delta added flights to its schedule and asked volunteers to cover them, according to a source familiar with the situation. But when there were not enough employees to cover those legs, the airline was forced to cancel some of them.
The airline declined to comment on the explanation. The executive board of Delta Master at the Airline Pilots Association said its pilots have activated to take on additional flights during the holiday period and receive an incentive for a premium pay to lift extra legs.
But as demand rose this week, significant reductions in the aviation system due to the coronavirus began to show.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, passenger traffic on airplanes is currently only about 40% of last year, and US airlines operate 43% fewer flights.
Delta and other US airlines have responded to the drop in demand by reducing the number of employees. The work schedule has been reduced, 1,800 pilots have retired prematurely, and others have been put in inactive status or are in training queues because the model of the planes they flew with have retired.
More incentives are being sought for airlines
Employees’ unions and executives of major US airlines have called for a multibillion-dollar extension of a pay-as-you-go program that keeps their employees in employment until September. Legislation to do so includes other incentives and has stopped in Washington.
Airlines have seen a relative increase in bookings this week as remote families gather for Thanksgiving dinner and students withdraw from university housing. More than a million people have passed through TSA checkpoints only four times since the spring – and three of those days were in the last week.
Travelers also book closer to departure dates, airlines said, giving companies less visibility when scheduling more than a month in advance.
In a statement, the union said the problem with the schedule could not be due to crews calling patients for the coronavirus.
“Although we have recently seen an increase in COIVD cases with our pilots over the last few weeks, along with an increase across the country, the cancellation numbers do not suggest that the cause is COVID,” said Chris Riggins, Delta’s first officer and ALPA spokesman. , the union said in a statement. “It’s also important to note that calls for patients have been declining over the past year, even though they have been involved in a global pandemic.”