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Delta pilots would get greater than 30% in pay raises under latest contract deal

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A pilot walks past the windows on the newly renovated Delta terminal D at LaGuardia Airport in Latest York March 6, 2021.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines and its pilots’ union have reached a preliminary agreement for raises topping 30% over 4 years, a milestone deal that might sharply drive up aviators’ pay across the industry.

Pilots’ unions and airlines across the U.S. have been in tense negotiations for months if not years, as crews seek more compensation and higher schedules.

Delta pilots voted in October to authorize a strike if a deal wasn’t reached, while pilots at several airlines have picketed this yr demanding contract improvements. Delta and the union were edging toward a deal in mid-November, CNBC reported.

Unions have complained about grueling schedules as travel snapped back from a pandemic slump. Delta and other U.S. carriers are profitable again, but a shortage of trained pilots has hampered carriers’ recovery and contributed to higher airfare. It also gives pilots more power in contract negotiations. Labor and fuel are airlines’ top two expenses.

The “agreement-in-principle” Delta reached with the Air Line Pilots Association is the same as $7.2 billion in cumulative value over 4 years, the union told members in an email late Friday. A few quarter of that’s tied to quality-of-life improvements.

The agreement includes an 18% increase on the day the contract is signed, then a 5% increase one yr later and two 4% raises in each of the next years. It also features a one-time payment of 4% of 2020 and 2021 pay each, plus 14% of 2022 pay.

“We’re pleased to have reached an agreement in principle for a latest pilot contract, one which recognizes the contributions of our pilots to Delta’s success,” a Delta spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Attempts at deals at American Airlines and United Airlines have to date failed but Delta’s agreement could push talks along.

“We’ll take other carriers’ ratified agreements, including United’s, into consideration and update our pay proposals quickly when details are known,” American’s CEO Robert Isom said in a video message to pilots in June.

The Delta agreement said pay rates will exceed United’s and American’s pay by no less than 1% over the course of the agreement, which still needs union and pilot approval.

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