Delta Air Lines has announced it will give nearly all its employees a 4 per cent raise, excluding pilots who are under a separate union contract.
According to a memo seen by Reuters, the raise will be effective from 1 May, and chief executive Ed Bastian said it is in response to “the direct result of the dedication, hard work and excellence that you [employees] demonstrate every day”.
Meanwhile, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), a union representing almost 50,000 flight attendants in America, has said the move is in response to the rising pressure from staff for better working conditions.
In 2019, the AFA launched a membership drive for Delta employees which continues to this day, as the Atlanta-based airline is fighting for union representation from the association, which began “Delta the Flight Attendant Union”.
The carrier is “seeing healthy demand for spring and summer travel as customers continue to return to Delta, with corporate offices re-opening, business travelers rebuilding face-to-face relationships and international restrictions lifting”, Bastian continued in the memo.
He noted in March 2020, “the United States declared a national emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak, which began the most difficult and challenging time in the history of our company.
“We’ve come a long way since the darkest days of 2020.”
Many airlines across America have boosted pay rates in order to attract workers as travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Ultra-low cost Avelo Airlines, located in Houston, announced earlier this year it would be increasing pilot compensation by almost 50 per cent for captains, and 30 per cent for officers.
In addition, the company is offering a $20,000 sign-on bonus for pilots hired before 1 June.
Southwest Airlines in August last year initiated a boost in its minimum hourly wage to $15, covering around 7,000 of its 54,000 employees.
American Airlines at the end of last year announced flight attendants who worked during the holidays would receive holiday premium pay to avoid cancelling flights.
According to CNBC, the AFA last week wrote to Delta cabin crew they hadn’t received a pay raise since 2019, before the pandemic started.
Delta the Flight Attendant Union said in a press release on Thursday the drive likely contributed to the decision “as part of an effort to divide Delta workers who are organizing to make Delta a better place to work”.
“We’ll take the raise and a real voice on the job!” the union said. “If Delta’s the best, we want to negotiate for the best.”
However, Delta told CNBC the pay increase was not because of the union drive, but a “well-deserved base pay increase for our people who continue to excel at safely taking care of our customers with a travel experience that sets us apart”.