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Delta gets closer to labor take care of pilots, union says

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Pilots talk after exiting a Delta Airlines flight on the Ronald Reagan National Airport on July 22, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia.

Michael A. McCoy | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines is getting closer to a labor take care of pilots, their union said, marking a giant improvement in a relationship that turned icy during years-long negotiations.

A preliminary deal this 12 months would clear a serious hurdle for Delta. Other carriers, including rivals United and American have also failed to succeed in latest labor agreements. Contract talks were derailed throughout the pandemic as travel demand plunged and carriers booked record losses.

Airlines at the moment are profitable again but negotiations have remained difficult throughout the industry. Delta, American, United, FedEx and Southwest pilots have picketed in recent months to demand higher pay and schedules. Passenger airline pilots complained about poor quality of life from frequent flight changes and grueling schedules.

“While it’s unclear exactly what the catalyst was for management’s movement toward our asks this past week, it was decisively the most efficient week of negotiations” since talks opened greater than three years ago, the Air Line Pilots Association said in a memo to Delta aviators on Monday.

Last month, Delta pilots voted overwhelmingly to authorize a possible strike if contract talks don’t result in an agreement.

Some major issues are still pending, like compensation and retirement packages, the union said, however it was upbeat.

The union said it’s “entirely possible” that a full agreement in principle could also be reached at an upcoming session. However it said that can require management “to proceed to indicate the motivation that resulted in progress this past week.”

Delta declined to comment.

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