Delta Air Lines Airbus A330

(Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

ATLANTA (CBS46) -- Atlanta-based Delta Airlines said Thursday that even after 17,000 Delta employees took part in early retirement and voluntary departure programs, the company is still "overstaffed in some areas of the business."

In a an internal memorandum to employees, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the company is working "to exhausting every option possible and harnessing our creativity before we consider involuntary separations." Among the option CEO Bastian mentioned: "temporarily shifting people between divisions, insourcing work previously done by contractors, and continuing our work hour reductions as needed to share the work across the company."

Delta also said 40,000 employees, almost half of the work force, had voluntarily taken unpaid leaves of absence which "has been critical to reducing our daily cash burn rate from $100 million at the beginning of the pandemic to about $27 million in June." Still, Bastian said more voluntarily unpaid leave will be needed in the fall in order to help reduce "the risk of involuntary furloughs."

Among other measures Delta said it has taken to help alleviate the pandemic damage were raising $14 billion since March, reducing capacity by 85 percent, and retiring more than 100 aircraft.

The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines especially hard this year as most travel has been canceled or curtailed. Even after receiving federal bailouts, most airlines have planned massive layoffs for October 1. That day, all federal requirements forbidding layoffs from airlines receiving federal money ends and some have said it could be a "Black Thursday" for airline employees.

Delta has bucked a recent trend as well in the airline industry by keeping the middle seat open for now and other social distancing requirements. Bastian has previously said Delta would keep the plan in place through September and re-evaluate along the way.

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