Pilots at Delta Air Lines are tipped to win a bumper pay rise worth around 34 percent of cumulative pay over the next four years, plus a guarantee that their wages will always be at least 1 percent higher than their peers at both American Airlines and United Airlines.
The details of the tentative deal were leaked on Saturday in a memo from the Delta pilots union. Members of the Delta branch of the Allied Pilots Union (ALPA) must still vote in favor of the proposed contract.
If approved, around 15,000 Delta pilots would receive an immediate 18 percent pay rise, plus a one-time payment equivalent to 22 percent of their earnings between 2020 and 2022.
Pilots would then receive a 5 per cent pay rise after the first year of the contract and then two 4 percent pay rises in the two years thereafter. Over the course of the contract, pilots will earn a minimum pay increase of 34 percent.
Interestingly, however, the tentative agreement also includes what is known in labor circles as a ‘me too’ clause which benchmarks the Delta pilot’s contract against other workgroups.
In this case, the ALPA have managed to get Delta management to benchmark the provisional contract against their peers at American Airlines and United who are both still in active contract talks with their pilots.
If either American Airlines or United were to offer their pilots better pay than what has already been negotiated at Delta, the Atlanta-based airline has promised to beat any deal by at least 1 percent, ensuring that Delta pilots remain the best paid in the industry.
Delta pilots have been working to secure a new contract since 2019, when a now six-year-old contract became amendable. Pay rates and other contract provisions have remained unchanged since 2016 when the last contract was agreed.
Negotiations were put on hold during the pandemic but coming out the other side, airlines have found themselves facing a severe pilot shortage putting unions in the driving seat in contract talks.
At the end of October, Delta pilots voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing strike action after contract talks faltered. Negotiations have been taking place ever since that historic vote.
On top of a bumper pay rise, pilots will also win quality of life improvements, including ten weeks of paid maternity leave, improved crew meals and enhanced health insurance.
In a statement, the airline said it was “pleased to have reached an agreement in principle for a new pilot contract, one that recognizes the contributions of our pilots to Delta’s success.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.