Delta Air Lines announced a surprise employee profit sharing scheme on Thursday as it released its full year 2021 financial results and laid out the impacts that the Omicron variant was having on the airline’s recovery.
The profit sharing scheme is valued at $108 million and will see Delta’s approximately 75,000 strong workforce receive around $1,250 each. The bonus is expected to be paid out on February 14.
Marking the first time Delta has paid out an employee sharing scheme since February 2020, chief executive Ed Bastian said the bonus was a sign of the airline’s appreciation of its workers.
The bonus was announced amidst an ongoing dispute with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) over Delta’s pandemic sickness policy and its decision to adopt a reduced isolation period for many sick workers.
By reducing the isolation period, Bastian said the airline had managed to quickly recover from a Christmas holiday meltdown and was now cancelling only a tiny number of flights due to staff shortages.
“Amid the continuing challenges, including one of the most difficult holiday environments we’ve ever encountered, you continue to rise above and provide unmatched service to our customers,” Bastian told employees in a memo announcing the bonus.
Omicron has slowed Delta’s anticipated recovery by around 60 days, the airline said during an earnings call and the carrier now expects to fly up to 85% of 2019 capacity in the first quarter.
The highly transmissible variant could also hit Delta’s bottom line by as much as $70 million, although that figure is subject to change as Omicron sweeps through the United States.