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Delta, pilots agree to cut work hours to stave off layoffs, furloughs

Delta, pilots agree to cut work hours to stave off layoffs, furloughs
Gates at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport are sparse with travelers on August 4, as the pandemic has seriously depressed demand for air travel. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Delta Air Lines pilots on Wednesday approved a labor agreement in an attempt to fend off furloughs next year by reducing their hours.

The Air Line Pilots Association approved the deal with 74% support, which will cut pilots' guaranteed monthly flying time an average of 2%, or two hours each.

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Delta had threatened furloughs if the plan, which covers 1,700 pilots, was not accepted.

"We are grateful to keep all our pilots actively employed and provide stability for you and your families," John Laughter, Delta chief of operations, said in a message to pilots Wednesday.

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Laughter warned that the travel industry is still unsteady and volatile, however, due to depressed demand for air travel brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, and the surge of cases in recent weeks.

"But there is still much to be thankful for," he said. "And by working together we continue to maintain and grow a loyal customer base that feels confident choosing Delta time and again for our safety, reliability and service."

The pilots' agreement with Delta comes at the same time Southwest Airlines is engaged in negotiations with its union workers for similar measures. The aim is to cut operating costs and sidestep involuntary layoffs or furloughs -- something the budget carrier has never done before in 50 years of flying.

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American Airlines and United Airlines have already furloughed tens of thousands of employees, but they had to wait until October to make the cuts, per the agreement in the spring that gave them critical federal funding aid.

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