All things considered Delta has the best labor relations of the “big three” US carriers, though generally speaking you’ll always find the most contention between management and pilots at a given airline.
Along those lines, the Delta Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association (which represents Delta pilots) has just filed with the Department of Transportation regarding Delta’s partnership with Aeromexico.
Why Delta Pilots Have An Issue With Aeromexico
Not only does Delta own a stake in Aeromexico, but they also have a joint venture with them. That means that the two airlines coordinate schedules and pricing for travel between the US and Mexico.
Their joint venture is up for renewal at the end of next year, and Delta and Aeromexico have filed with the DOT requesting the elimination of a five year review condition for the joint venture to be maintained.
In response to this request, Delta pilots have filed with the DOT requesting further stipulations. Why?
Delta pilots feel that flying between the US and Mexico has unfairly been taken away from them. Essentially they feel that growth between the two countries has disproportionately been on Aeromexico flights, and as a result flying is being taken away from Delta pilots. In other words, Mexico is stealing their jobs! 😉
They’re probably not that far off. After all, if the two airlines are sharing revenue and are trying to maximize their overall profitability, it’s logical enough that Delta would want to push quite a bit of flying to Aeromexico, since they even have a stake in the airline.
Aeromexico has significantly lower operating costs than Delta. The union also claims that Delta is in violation of their own contracts with pilots regarding the Delta and Aeromexico partnership. They claim that the minimum amount of flying that Delta would have to do as part of this partnership is being breached.
So, what do the pilots want? They’d like the DOT to add conditions that maximize the jobs for US workers by better balancing the growth as part of this joint venture.
This Isn’t The First Complaint From Delta Pilots
Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Delta pilots also filed with the Department of Transportation expressing concern over the proposed expanded joint venture between Delta, Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic.
Essentially they argued that growth with transatlantic flight has disproportionately been with European airlines, and that’s not fair for pilots.
I don’t think Delta pilots are too far off here. Delta management loves talking about how US aviation jobs are at risk due to the Gulf carriers, but there’s no doubt that they’re “outsourcing” quite a bit of flying to their joint venture partners.
This allows them to share profits, and in instances where they have an equity stake in the airline, it’s especially advantageous for them to do this. Never mind the fact that in many cases foreign airlines have cheaper labor contracts.
That being said, while this is definitely hypocritical on Delta’s part, I’m not sure they’re actually violating anything that the DOT should be concerned with. The union does claim that their contracts are being violated, though:
- This would be separate from what the DOT is looking into
- I imagine if they were actually violating their contract, the union would be suing management
I’ll be curious to see what comes of these situations…