Delta Air Lines Will Not Furlough Any Flight Attendants

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Delta Air Lines will not be furloughing any flight attendants this fall. The last few months have been difficult for the carrier with billions of dollars in losses. However, this is some welcome news for flight attendants after months of uncertainty amid an unprecedented crisis.

Delta Shanghai
Delta will not be furloughing any flight attendants for now, even as it retires some aircraft like the Boeing 777s. Photo: Getty Images

No furloughs for flight attendants

View From the Wing reports that Delta will not be furloughing any of their thousands of flight attendants. This comes not too long after the airline announced it was furloughing nearly 2,000 pilots come October.

Delta Air Lines provided the following statement to Simple Flying:

“We’re grateful for the continued rallying spirit of Delta people during the pandemic. With the overwhelming response of flight attendants choosing to participate in our creative staffing options – and based on our current network schedule – we are positioned well to be able to successfully manage through our flight attendant overstaffing situation”

For the last few months, the whole airline industry has been in limbo with furloughs. United Airlines indicated it could furlough up to 16,000 employees, Hawaiian Airlines issued notices to 442 pilots and flight attendants on impending furloughs, and American Airlines revealed about 17,500 upcoming furloughs.

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Some flight attendants took early retirements or leaves, which helped reduce the number of involuntary furloughs. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Back in March, Delta Air Lines was one of the carriers that lobbied hard for government support and got it in the form of $5.4 billion in aid. That money is set to end on September 30th, meaning furloughs were possible from October 1st. So long as Delta received government aid, it could not involuntarily layoff or furlough any employees.

What would furloughs have accomplished?

It is no secret that every single airline is facing some difficult times with reduced bookings, record-low travel demand, and a choppy recovery filled with highs and lows. The fall is historically a low time for airlines before the Thanksgiving holidays hit. After experiencing a rough summer, no airline is very excited about the prospects of September, October, and November during these times.

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Instead, airlines are looking towards next summer as the first real opportunity to get back to flying. Delta itself has highlighted its long-haul international route buildup on transpacific and transatlantic routes, with a robust schedule planned for next summer.

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With Delta’s plans, the airline will need a significant number of flight attendants in the spring and summer. Photo: Delta Air Lines

In May 2021, when Delta needs more flight attendants than it does in October, the airline would call the furloughed ones back to work and avoid having to hire and train new cabin crew recruits– which would be time-intensive and costly compared to furloughs.

How seat blocking plays a role

Seat blocking plays a huge role in Delta’s route plans for the fall. Consistently, Delta’s top brass and CEO, Ed Bastian, has stated he would rather add more flights on a route than open up seats for booking. Now, the airline is blocking middle seats all the way through January, meaning more customers can expect more space onboard Delta’s planes.

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Delta Air Lines Salt Lake
Delta has shown a preference for making sure people can have some space on board while also mandating masks. Photo: Getty Images

Those new flights do still need to be staffed. So, Delta does require a few more flight attendants than most other airlines, which have chosen instead to book to capacity rather than block out seats. Nevertheless, over the last few months, the number of flight attendants who have taken early outs and unpaid leaves have helped the carrier avoid any furloughs. Now, the airline just has to hope the industry is in a far better place next May than it is right now.

What do you make of Delta avoiding flight attendant furloughs? Let us know in the comments!

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