Hundreds of Delta Airlines pilots will picket for more pay and better schedules as union blasts the FAA for short staffing and ‘pilot fatigue’: 500 flights are axed across US
- Off-duty Delta Airlines pilots plan to picket at major US airports for better hours and pay on Thursday
- The protest comes as US airlines see a dramatic increase in delays and cancellations
- The Air Line Pilots Association released a statement explaining the decision to picket, saying pilots are having to work longer hours
- As of Tuesday morning, airlines had cancelled over 500 flights and delayed over 1,000 more
Hundreds of off-duty Delta Airlines pilots are planning to picket this week to demand an increase in pay and better schedules – as another 500 flights are axed today.
The Air Line Pilots Association claimed last night its nearly 14,000 members are working longer hours even as airlines cancel thousands of trips.
Delta Airlines pilots plan to start picketing on Thursday at several major airports including LAX, JFK and Atlanta, which are some of the most affected in terms of cancellations and delays.
The announcement comes amidst a rise in flight cancellations and delays. On Tuesday morning, airlines had already cancelled over 500 flights and delayed another 1,200, according to FlightAware.
Passengers line up to check bags before their flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. June 28, 2022 as airports see an increase in cancellations and delays
A packed check-in line at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as passengers deal with longer lines and potential delays and cancellations
Pilots have complained that thinly staffed airlines are asking them to work too many flights, with more pilots reporting fatigue.
The pilots plan to picket, not strike, on the days they are not scheduled to work in order to bring attention to the issues. Federal law creates a long and difficult process before airline workers can legally go on strike.
The planned protest comes just before July 4 weekend, which is expected to see 3.5 million Americans fly according to AAA.
‘The Delta pilots last signed a new contract in 2016 and are currently flying under work rules and pay rates negotiated over six years ago,’ said Jason Ambrosi, a Delta pilot and union official, in the statement.
‘The perfect storm is occurring. Demand is back and pilots are flying record amounts of overtime but are still seeing our customers being stranded and their holiday plans ruined,’ Ambrosi said.
‘When delays or cancellations happen, the pilots share in our passengers’ frustration,’ he continued.
After the coronavirus pandemic halted the airline industry, pilots played a major role in getting airlines back up and running, though their pay has not increased since negotiations in 2016.
U.S. consumers lodged more than triple the number of complaints against U.S. airlines in April, compared with pre-pandemic levels, as on-time arrivals fell, according to a report by the Department of Transportation.
Earlier this month, Secretary of Transport Pete Buttigieg called a virtual meeting with the chief executives of major U.S. airlines to discuss thousands of recent flight cancellations and delays over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. He urged airlines to ensure they can reliably operate planned summer schedules.
Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. carriers, said Friday it wants to know FAA’s staffing plans for the July Fourth holiday weekend, ‘so we can plan accordingly.’
The comments from the industry group could serve as a pre-emptive defense in case airlines again suffer thousands of canceled and delayed flights over the holiday weekend, when travel is expected to set new pandemic-era highs.
‘The industry is actively and nimbly doing everything possible to create a positive customer experience since it is in an airline’s inherent interest to keep customers happy, so they return for future business,’ Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group, said in a letter to Buttigieg.