Delta Air Lines has agreed to retain levels of overseas operations to appease pilots ahead of union talks.
Bloomberg reports that Delta Air Lines has put forth an agreement with its pilots union to retain its international flights in order to assuage fears that a larger share of this market would go to Virgin Atlantic.
Delta acquired 49 percent of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. in 2013 for $360 million. Following the acquisition, Delta pilots expressed concern that the airline would let Virgin take over a larger share of the international flights, particularly ones servicing London Heathrow Airport (LHR).
According to Rick Dominguez, executive administrator of Delta’s U.S. chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, under the terms of the new agreement, Delta will maintain 49,000 hours of flying on wide-body jets per year between the U.S. and LHR. Delta will also continue flying three times as much globally as Virgin, explained Dominguez, regardless how much Virgin may grow.
Critics have expressed concern that there are no penalties in place should Delta fail to uphold the agreement. Tim Caplinger, a Delta first officer, founder of a start-up union and head of the Delta Pilots Union, told Bloomberg: “It’s completely optional for the company to comply with [the agreement] if there’s no penalty for going out of compliance.”
Dominguez brushed off this concern, stating that by spelling out such penalties, it could potentially “encourage an airline to consider them a cost of doing business,” reports Bloomberg.
[Photo: Delta Air Lines]