Delta pilots to picket demanding change in scheduling, better pay

FILE PHOTO(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 7:27 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Off-duty Delta Air Lines pilots are planning to picket Thursday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, saying they’re overworked and underpaid.

Problems have been escalating for months. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when few people were traveling, Delta was forced to whittle down its workforce, granting early retirement to many of its pilots.

These days, the demand for flights is soaring, and Delta can’t hire and train pilots fast enough. That means existing pilots are having to work a good deal of overtime, and flights are being canceled because – according to the Air Line Pilots Association – the company is trying to operate more fights than it has the staffing to handle.

Besides Atlanta, Thursday’s picketing is happening at airports in Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, and Salt Lake City. Pilots are demanding a better contract, saying they haven’t had a pay increase since 2016. They also want a change in scheduling.

“When delays or cancellations happen, the pilots share in our passengers’ frustration,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, a Delta pilot who’s also a union representative. “As long-term stakeholders in our airline, seeing our operational reliability suffer is bad business and puts the Delta brand at risk.”

A spokesperson for Delta says the company’s goal is to provide its pilots with an industry-leading overall contract. Delta also wants to emphasize that the demonstration will not impact flight operations, since the pilots are off the clock.