Delta pilots ratify new contract reducing regional jet fleet

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Delta Air Lines pilots have ratified an amended contract that would allow the SkyTeam carrier to reduce its regional jet fleet.

Represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the pilots concluded voting on the agreement today. Of the 10,170 eligible pilots, 94% voted, says ALPA. Of these, 62% voted in favour of the agreement, which was passed by the union's leadership in May.

The new contract would allow Delta to cut 218 50-seat jets from its Delta Connection fleet and add 70 new 76-seat jets at contract carriers. It would also allow Delta to acquire 88 117-seat Boeing 717-200s from Southwest Airlines subsidiary AirTran Airways for its mainline operation.

Delta would cap its regional fleet at 450, excluding nine Embraer ERJ-140s operated by Chautauqua Airlines and turboprop aircraft.

Delta pilots would also receive a 20% pay raise over the new contract's term. The existing agreement was scheduled to become amendable on 31 December.

The airline says it is pleased that its pilots chose to ratify the new contract, adding that the agreement will provide the carrier the ability to speed up "fleet enhancements which will be better for Delta customers".