Delta Air Lines shared this week that it is returning all pilots to active flying status. The Atlanta-based carrier is gearing up for recovery and plans for all affected pilots to have an active status by October of this year.
A company effort
According to a memo sent to all flight operations employees, shared publicly by Twitter user JonNYC, Delta’s management expressed its appreciation for its staff’s leadership in its current operations. It said that even with harsh weather conditions and continued challenges amid the global health crisis, employees were always keeping safety at the forefront of the services.
Delta SVP and COO John Laughter shared that his company is seeing hopeful trends as the vaccine rollout continues. Nonetheless, his team remains cautiously optimistic about the future of travel demand and the industry’s recovery.
Looking to rebuild
The airline expects domestic leisure to be the first segment to return as people are anxious to enjoy life again. After that, business and international travel will continue to return.
“Looking ahead, we’re preparing to potentially build back to 2019 levels of flying by summer 2023. With that projection in mind, we will post an Advanced Entitlement on March 5th that will begin the process to return all remaining affected pilots to active flying status by October.
Bob Schmelzer will provide full details about the AE in a memo soon. This decision is a significant step to position Delta for the network recovery and supports projected customer demand,” Laughter said in the memo.
“Even with this momentum going forward, we must keep in mind that there continues to be uncertainty and choppiness in the path ahead, so we need to stay agile and ready to adjust quickly. Our customers will dictate the pace of our recovery. We also must remain vigilant in our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining strict health and safety practices at work and home. We cannot fall back this close to the finish line.”
Overall, the airline’s leadership is glad to report that virus case counts among pilots, support staff, and the wider company are on the decline. These figures are consistent with the national rates. So, those within the firm must individually continue their diligent efforts to carry on in the right direction.
A careful approach
Simple Flying reached out to Delta for comment on these updates. A spokesperson for the airline confirmed the validity of the memo and provided us with the following details:
This move is to help the airline prepare for growth in future flying, as it looks to anticipated customer demand in 2022 and 2023.
Delta’s teams have to build in time to train pilots on the aircraft needed to fly the planned increased flight schedule – this process takes several months.
In December 2020, Delta pilots ratified an agreement to protect all pilots from furlough. The pilots returning to active flying are those who were designated into a No-Fly status (while still employed with Delta).
Altogether, there have been plenty of twists and turns for Delta’s pilots over the last year. There was the possibility that there could be furlough decisions by last November. However, the carrier and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) then agreed on a deal that saw pay cuts to provide furlough protection until January 2022. Now, with this memo, there is more optimism of a better climate ahead as the company looks to build to pre-pandemic levels over the next two years.
This article originally appeared on USA Today