Delta pilots say they’ve been flying ‘record amount of overtime’ amid flight cancellations

Pilots for Delta Air Lines wrote an open letter to customers, published on Thursday, saying the large number of recent flight delays, cancellations and cuts were “unacceptable” and they were “flying a record amount of overtime to help you get to your destination.”

“At the current rate, by this fall, our pilots will have flown more overtime in 2022 than in the entirety of 2018 and 2019 combined, our busiest years to date,” the pilots wrote in the letter. “We empathize and share in your frustration over the delays, cancellations, and disrupted travel plans you’ve experienced. We agree; it is unacceptable.”

In a May 26 release, Delta announced it would reduce its services by about 100 daily flights from July 1 to Aug. 7.

The airline company updated the release on Thursday, saying its weekend cancellations were down 35 percent from May while it was hiring more pilots and staff and starting the boarding process earlier.

Delta also said it would continue to adjust flights as part of a plan of “strategically decreasing our flight schedule this summer” in order to “build additional resilience in our system and improve operational reliability.”

Delta joins other airlines in a wave of mass flight cancellations this summer, which the companies say is a result of staffing shortages caused by the pandemic.

Other major airline companies slashing flights include Southwest Airlines, which cut 20,000 of them for this summer, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the world’s largest pilot union, disagreed that there was a staffing shortage, arguing in a June 7 release that the companies were making a “fictitious claim that there is a lack of available pilots” in an effort to weaken safety regulations for profits.

“The United States is producing a record number of pilots, yet some are still trying to claim we need to weaken aviation safety rules to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” said ALPA president Capt. Joe DePete in a statement.

ALPA said data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) showed 8,000 new pilots were certified in the past 12 months.

In a statement on Thursday, Delta Chief of Operations John Laughter said recovering from the pandemic has been challenging and in particular, “this phase of our recovery has been the most difficult.”

“We’ve never had to bring the airline back at this speed before,” Laughter said. “Through this challenge, we continue to make decisions that allow us to run a good, safe operation while restoring our network, and to take care of our people and customers.”

In Thursday’s letter, however, Delta pilots criticized the company’s management. The employees told customers they were “disheartened when we witness the impact of your disrupted travel plans.”

“As we welcome you aboard, we will continue to go above and beyond to ensure the integrity of the operation. Delta’s management needs to do the same before you lose confidence in the Delta brand,” they wrote.

Tags Air Line Pilots Association airlines Delta Air Lines Delta Airlines Flight Cancellations flights

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