There’s some great news for Delta flight attendants…
Delta won’t be furloughing any flight attendants
Delta Air Lines confirmed yesterday that it won’t be furloughing any flight attendants next month. As a Delta spokesperson explains:
“We’re grateful for the continued rallying spirit of Delta people during the pandemic. With the overwhelming response of flight attendants choosing to participate in our creative staffing options – and based on our current network schedule – we are positioned well to be able to successfully manage through our flight attendant overstaffing situation.”
US airlines received billions of dollars in government support through the CARES Act, which included a Payroll Support Program. As a condition of accepting this, airlines had to promise not to involuntarily furlough any US-based workers before October 1. With this funding soon running out, we’re seeing many airlines announce layoffs starting in October.
For a bit of context:
- Southwest isn’t furloughing any employees as of October
- The only workgroup at Delta that’s seeing furloughs is pilots, as around 2,000 will be furloughed
- American is furloughing 19,000 employees, 8,100 of which are flight attendants
- United is furloughing 16,000+ employees, nearly 7,000 of which are flight attendants
How was Delta able to avoid flight attendant furloughs?
Well it depends who you ask, but there are likely a few contributing factors. First of all, it’s interesting to note that Delta’s flight attendants aren’t unionized, while Delta’s pilots are. There has been a big push to get Delta flight attendants to unionize, so we’ll see what impact this situation has on that.
What factors into Delta’s lack of furloughs? For one, Delta managed to get more flight attendants to accept either leaves of absence or early outs than at American and United. Potential explanations for this are that:
- Delta has a better corporate culture, and employees are more invested in the future of the company, especially given the extent to which the airline offers employees profit sharing
- Delta largely offered more lucrative voluntary packages than competing airlines
- Maybe some employees took packages out of fear of being laid off; since Delta flight attendants aren’t unionized, the airline has more discretion about how it can do layoffs, beyond just going based on strict seniority
There are likely a couple of other factors as well:
- Unlike at American and United, Delta flight attendants don’t receive pay for any minimum monthly flown hours, so potentially flight attendants will be taking huge pay cuts, since they’ll be flying less
- Given that unionization of flight attendants was a big discussion pre-pandemic, I’m sure Delta management wanted to go out of its way to demonstrate how it treats employees better than other airlines
American and United are furloughing 15,000+ flight attendants combined, while Delta won’t furlough any.
What ultimately caused this? A combination of factors, including more employees taking voluntary separation packages (likely for a variety of reasons), and also Delta not guaranteeing a minimum number of monthly hours, so it’s potentially lower cost for Delta to keep employees around.
Delta is also in a league of its own in the US by not having unionized flight attendants, and I’m sure the company wanted to use this as an opportunity to differentiate itself and show goodwill.
Are you surprised to see that Delta isn’t furloughing any flight attendants?
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)