Delta pilots picket over stalled contract negotiations

Hundreds of Delta pilots stayed grounded Thursday, fighting for raises they say the airline is dragging its heels on.

More than 1,200 pilots picketed at Kennedy Airport, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport, a spokesperson for the Air Line Pilots Association told the Daily News.

Pilots have been working off the same contract they last negotiated in 2016, the union said, and haven’t had a pay raise in more than three years.

“Delta pilots were front-line leaders during COVID and the recovery. We helped our airline recover by flying record amounts of overtime and spending more time away from our families than ever before to get our customers safely to their destinations,” Capt. Jason Ambrosi, Chairman of the Delta Master Executive Council, a unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a statement.

“It’s time for management to recognize our contributions. If Delta can invest billions in foreign airlines and its subsidiaries, it must invest similarly in its pilots.”

Contract negotiations between the union and the airline were delayed during the pandemic and began again in January, but pilots say they’ve seen little movement and Delta — and all other outlets — continue to see mass delays and cancellations.

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Ambrosi called it “the perfect storm” with ridership back up, especially in time for July Fourth, and pilots forced to do overtime to cover flights.

“Unfortunately, these problems have not led to any greater urgency from management to resolve our issues at the negotiating table,” he said in a statement.

Delta, however, told the Daily News that the pickets “will not disrupt our operation for our customers.”

“Our goal remains to continue providing Delta pilots with an industry-leading overall contract with the best compensation based on pay, retirement, work rules, and profit sharing,” a spokesperson told The News Thursday.

“We’re also committed to making sure the contract language supports our ability to run a world-class operation, maintain a strong balance sheet, and invest in our business for our customers and employees alike.”

Almost 6,000 flights into, out of or within the United States were delayed Wednesday, just days before the long weekend, and about 640 were canceled outright, according to FlightAware.

About 3.5 million people are expected to fly over the holiday weekend, according to estimates by AAA.

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