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Delta Pilots Back to Flying Status this Fall

In a plan that will be released Friday, March 5, Delta Air Lines has told its pilots that the company will have them all back to flying status by October as the airline prepares to return to more normal operations.

In a memo from John Laughter, Delta’s chief of operations, the Atlanta-based airline says pilots idled by COVID-19 can expect a busy summer of training and refreshers. “Looking ahead, we’re preparing to potentially build back to 2019 levels of flying by summer 2023,” he wrote.  “This decision is a significant step to position Delta for the network recovery and supports projected customer demand.”

As is the case with most air carriers, Delta believes the domestic leisure market will recover first as the waning pandemic enables people to visit family and friends for the first time in more than a year.  Domestic business travel is expected to be the next to recover followed by international traffic.

Instead of furloughing its pilots during the downturn, Delta made a deal with the union to take some of them off the schedule and reduce pay to help the airline survive.  This agreement is in place until January 2022. 

Ops Chief Laughter said the airline’s recovery and the fortunes of the pilots are dependent on how the pandemic recovery progresses.  “There continues to be uncertainty and choppiness in the path ahead so we need to stay agile and ready to adjust quickly,” Laughter wrote.  “Our customer will dictate the pace of our recovery.”