Delta avoids furloughs for flight attendants, ground crew

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Delta reached an agreement with its flight attendants and ground-based employees to avoid furloughs at the end of September.
Delta reached an agreement with its flight attendants and ground-based employees to avoid furloughs at the end of September.

Delta will avoid furloughs for flight attendants and ground-based U.S. employees when the Cares Act Payroll Support Program expires on Sept. 30.

Maintenance technicians, customer service agents, reservation agents and cargo workers will join flight attendants in being spared furloughs, CEO Ed Bastian wrote in a letter to employees Tuesday. However, the carrier will have to furlough more than 1,900 pilots unless ongoing discussions with the pilots union can yield an agreement that reduces or eliminates that number.

Delta has been able to avoid furloughs through early retirement and voluntary leave programs. Twenty percent of the workforce accepted voluntary retirement, Bastian said. In addition, more than 40,000 Delta employees took long-term or short-term voluntary leaves of absence.

The carrier also imposed 25% reductions in work hours for ground-based employees, which is helping it avoid furloughs, Bastian said.

Delta's announcement Tuesday differs greatly from expectations at its primary competitors, American and United.
American has said it will furlough or lay off approximately 19,000 employees on Oct. 1.

United recently reached a deal to avoid pilot furloughs; beyond that, however, it expects to furlough more than 13,000 workers.

Bastian noted that despite its success in mitigating furloughs, Delta remains in a grim economic situation.

"We're still flying just 30 percent of the passenger volumes we had this time last year, and are currently burning about $750 million in cash a month," he wrote.

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