As the global aviation industry is still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta Airlines has said it is set to retire Boeing 777 aircraft and A350 categories in its fleet.
This is just as the airline stated that with the reduction in its fleet, the carrier will be overstaffed with more than 7000 pilots.
Delta Airline in a memo signed by John Laughter, Senior Vice President – Flight Operations to all Flight Operations Employees, he said the airline has lost more than 95% of its passenger revenue due to the pandemic.
The carrier has joined the long list of airlines trimming its workforce due to the impact of the pandemic.
He said: “Even months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s difficult to fully grasp the reality of how it has impacted our entire industry and Delta’s current situation.
“We’re currently skimming along the bottom of an 85% reduced operation with more than 95% percent of our passenger revenue gone. While we know that we will eventually see growth and the return of our customers, our challenge is predicting the pace and timing of this return – which will be slower than any of us hoped.
“After thoughtful and careful planning, our Network team finalized the fleet and network plan reflecting this multi-year recovery. This plan gives us insight into what our staffing needs will be and what was necessary to finalize the May 2020 Advanced Entitlement/Surplus Bid, which will be posted tomorrow.
“Simply put, this AE/Surplus Bid will have a profound impact on every single one of us in Flight Operations. It includes significant fleet and base changes such as the retirement of the MD-88/90, the retirement of the 777 fleet, which Ed announced early today, and adds A350 categories in ATL and LAX. The bid also captures flying reductions on other categories, including the 717 and 7ER, as we fly a smaller overall fleet.
“The unprecedented challenges we face during this crisis also led to the difficult decision to close our CVG pilot base after 33 years there. This was not a decision made lightly, but limitations of the CVG base drive operational inefficiency which cannot be overcome in this environment.
“There are other category and base adjustments that Bob Schmelzer will detail in a memo preceding the AE/Surplus Bid. I recognize these changes and our current circumstances are unsettling and many of you have questions about what happens after the AE. While I don’t have those specific answers today, I do have hard numbers that paint the reality we are in. Based on current capacity expectations for this fall, we will be overstaffed by more than 7,000 pilots. I recognize that is an alarming number so it’s important to know that our intent is to align staffing for what we need over the long term. By the third quarter 2021, we will have between 2,500 and 3,500 pilots more than needed to fly the schedule. That accounts for the pilots who will reach mandatory retirement age between now and next summer.
“We are looking at all options to minimize potential furloughs and offset impact on our pilots through additional voluntary programs and cost-saving measures. We have meetings scheduled to engage with your elected representatives this week to discuss options, including an early retirement program. We will share more details about these discussions when we can.
“I know this is difficult news to read, just as it is difficult for me to relay, but the decisive actions we take now will aid us in our recovery as we emerge on the other side. As Ed said, we were the strongest airline going into this crisis, and we will be the strongest coming out.
“As we work through these challenging times, thank you for your focus on our core mission to safely fly our customers, and for your professionalism and leadership.”