Delta Air Lines said in a Monday memo to employees seen by Reuters that it is planning to furlough 1,941 pilots in October, citing the fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and declining demand for air travel.
“We are six months into this pandemic and only 25% of our revenues have been recovered. Unfortunately, we see few catalysts over the next six months to meaningful change this trajectory,” Delta’s head of flight operations John Laughter said in the memo, as cited by the outlet. “We are simply overstaffed, and we are faced with an incredibly difficult decision.”
A spokesperson for Delta, one of the major airlines in the United States, told Reuters that the airline was initially planning to involuntary furlough a surplus of 2,558 pilots but the calculations changed after the introduction of voluntary departure and early retirement programs.
The spokesperson noted that the company would need only about 9,450 active pilots for the summer 2021 schedule, which is anticipated to be the peak of travelling movement for the next 12-18 months.
The Air Line Pilots Association representing Delta’s pilots said in a statement that it was “extremely disappointed” in the company’s decision to furlough such a large number of pilots.