It’s been an interesting few weeks watching the countless announcements from airlines as to how they are treating their staff during the COVID-19 crisis. For those of us reporting on news within the industry, barely a week has gone by when we are not publishing a story on another regional or LCC furloughing staff or simply letting them go. While the goal for many airline CEOs is to ensure the long-term future of their airline, there does appear to be an unhealthy outlook in the way certain airlines made the announcement to its staff. From pilots to cabin crew, all were let go due to the lack of demand, particularly in Europe, with swathes of staff, no matter how senior or junior, pushed out of a job that for many had been a lifetime goal.
Perhaps many of these operators could have taken a lesson from the current co-operation between Delta Air Lines and its pilots’ union in trying to avoid furloughing more than 2,300 pilots. Although still a significant number, this figure could have been far higher had it not been for the airline shifting around 7,000 pilots to various bases and different aircraft types. And yet the airline is still trying to minimise additional furloughs. Delta and the pilots’ union allowed its members to openly bid for other positions across its network and on different routes in order to “keep the team together”. At the time, the Chairman of the Delta Master Executive Council at the Air Line Pilots Association, Captain Ryan Schnitzler, stated:
“Undoubtedly, processing the largest surplus bid in our history and how it impacts you and your family has weighed on us all since it was posted. No matter where you sit on the seniority list, the impact of being displaced – and its impact on your quality of life – is stressful. Some of you may have to commute for the first me in your career or slide back into the right seat after a recent upgrade.”
Obviously, Delta still has an opportunity to further reduce furloughs and travel still has to pick-up, which allows the operator to bring back even more pilots, but at least one airline out there is simply not kicking its staff out of the terminal in a knee-jerk response.