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Delta says it won't furlough most workers thanks to buyouts and shorter schedules

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Delta Air Lines passenger planes are seen parked due to flight reductions made to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.

Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters

Most of Delta Air Lines’ roughly 75,000 workers won’t face job cuts, thanks to voluntary leaves of absence, buyouts and shorter schedules, the airline said Tuesday.

Airlines have pleaded with employees in recent months to take leave or buyouts in order to lower their labor bills as the coronavirus pandemic’s toll on travel demand deprived them of revenue during what is usually the busiest time of the year.

About a fifth of Delta’s staff, which numbered more than 90,000 at the start of the year, took buyouts or early retirement packages, CEO Ed Bastian said in a staff memo. More than 40,000 have opted for temporary leaves of absence since the pandemic began and work schedules for most employees have been cut by 25%. The reduced schedules will continue until the end of the year.

“While it is difficult to see so many of our colleagues leave, every one of those departures helped save Delta jobs,” he said.

Flight attendants, mechanics, reservation and customer service agents won’t face furloughs, Bastian said. 

The airline has warned than more than 1,900 pilots, however, could face a furlough as early as Oct. 1, but negotiations with their union to cut costs are ongoing.

The terms of $25 billion in aid airlines received from the federal government prohibit job cuts through Sept. 30.

 

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