Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has informed staff that it will return all of its pilots back to ‘active flying status’ by October this year, as it banks on increasing demand for domestic leisure and business travel.
According to an internal memo sent to staff by Delta senior vice president and chief of operations John Laughter, the company is “hopeful” of a bounce-back in demand as the vaccine rollout continues throughout the US.
Further, the airline is anticipating a return to its full pre-COVID capacity by mid-2023, ahead of international expectations for recovery.
As such, the airline is working towards reinstating all furloughed pilots to active status over the coming months.
“This decision is a significant step to position Delta for the network recovery and supports projected customer demand,” the memo stated.
“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,” it added.
The memo stated that the number of COVID cases being reported among pilots and other Delta staff was on the decline, and “consistent with national rates”.
The news comes just days after Delta announced it would be paying out bonuses to upper management employees to compensate for the pay cuts they received in 2020.
The bonuses are being paid despite the airline accepting new rounds of government payroll support, and frontline workers who have been forced to work on reduced hours will not be included in the payout.
Individual bonuses range from $8,000 for managers up to over $250,000 for senior vice presidents, according to a Delta employee with knowledge on the matter.