Delta Air Lines will not involuntarily furlough its flight attendants and ground-based frontline employees after 30 September, when the US CARES Act expires and airlines that have received payroll support funds will once again be free to lay off workers or cut pay.
The Atlanta-based carrier has received $5.4 billion in payroll support under the CARES Act but has decided not to take the $4.6 billion CARES Act loan it had applied for, which offers funds for non-payroll expenses. The loan programme, like the payroll support stimulus, requires participating carriers to offer warrants to US Department of Treasury.
Delta’s pilots remain vulnerable to involuntary furloughs. The airline stated on 31 August that it may lay off 1,941 pilots.
“Unfortunately, we still expect an overage of pilots as of Oct. 1,” Delta‘s chief executive Ed Bastian writes in a 15 September memo to employees. “There still is time to mitigate this potential furlough and discussions are ongoing with the pilots’ union as we continue to look for ways to cost-effectively reduce or eliminate this number.”
A congressional deal on a stimulus plan to extend the CARES Act and thus potentially save pilots’ jobs “looks uncertain”, Bastian writes.
Bastian credits the avoidance of involuntary furloughs for flight attendants and frontline employees to the 20% of Delta’s workers who took early retirement and departure packages.
“While we are all grateful for our ability to mitigate furloughs, it’s important to remember that we are still in a grim economic situation,” Bastian says, adding that Delta is operating 30% of last year’s passenger volumes and is burning $750 million in cash per month.