First Free Story (1 of 3)

More travel executives get their mission-critical industry news from Skift than any other source on the planet.

Already a member?

Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines have each received strong demand from pilots for early departure packages aimed at slimming their workforces to weather the coronavirus pandemic, according to preliminary numbers.

The union representing Delta pilots said 2,235 pilots had volunteered for a voluntary early out program ahead of a Sunday deadline, up from 1,700 on Friday, when Delta told pilots it would avoid furloughs if they agreed to reduced guaranteed minimum pay.

At Southwest, around 24 percent of pilots and 33 percent of flight attendants have agreed to early retirement or long-term leaves of absence, a person familiar with the matter said.

There is a period for employees at both Delta and Southwest to rescind their decision, so the numbers are not final.

Delta and Southwest did not comment.

U.S. airlines, which received a $25 billion bailout in March to cover payroll for six months, are trying to encourage employees to accept voluntary exit deals in the hope of avoiding involuntary furloughs in the fall, when a government ban on forced job cuts expires.

They had hoped that air travel demand would recover by October, but have warned that bookings that began to rise from historic lows in May and June have now leveled off or even fallen due to a rise in Covid-19 cases in some parts of the country.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson; Editing by Dan Grebler)

This article was written by David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Photo Credit: Airlines are looking to downsize their workforce with early departure packages. Michael Probst / Associated Press