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Hundreds of Delta Airlines pilots plan to picket this week as union slams FAA for short staffing

Hundreds of Delta Airlines pilots will stake for more pay and better schedules as union criticizes FAA for staff shortages and ‘pilot fatigue’: 500 US flights are halted

  • Off-duty Delta Airlines pilots plan to pick up at major U.S. airports for better hours and pay on Thursday
  • The protest comes as US airlines see a dramatic increase in delays and cancellations
  • The Air Line Pilots Association released a statement explaining the picket decision, saying pilots should work longer hours
  • By Tuesday morning, airlines had canceled more than 500 flights and delayed more than 1,000

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Hundreds of off-duty Delta Airlines pilots plan to go on strike this week to demand wage increases and better schedules as another 500 flights are canceled today.

The Air Line Pilots Association last night claimed its nearly 14,000 members are working longer hours, even as airlines cancel thousands of trips.

Delta Airlines pilots plan to pick up Thursday at several major airports, including LAX, JFK and Atlanta, which are most affected by cancellations and delays.

The announcement comes amid a surge in flight cancellations and delays. By Tuesday morning, airlines had already canceled more than 500 flights and delayed another 1,200, according to FlightAware

Passengers line up to check baggage for their flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, US June 28, 2022 as airports see an increase in cancellations and delays

Passengers line up to check baggage for their flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, US June 28, 2022 as airports see an increase in cancellations and delays

This graph shows how many flights have been canceled at US airports in the past few days

This graph shows how many flights have been canceled at US airports in the past few days

The average annual Delta Pilot salary in the United States is approximately $157,912, which is 119% above the national average, according to Indeed

Pilots have complained that understaffed airlines are asking them to run too many flights, with more pilots reporting fatigue.

The pilots plan to strike, not to strike, on the days they are not working, to draw attention to the problems. Federal law makes for a long and difficult process before airline personnel can legally go on strike.

“The Delta pilots last signed a new contract in 2016 and are currently flying under the labor rules and wage rates negotiated more than six years ago,” Jason Ambrosi, a Delta pilot and union official, said in the statement.

The planned protest comes just before the weekend of July 4, which is expected to see 3.5 million Americans fly, according to AAA† Ambrosi says the union is “concerned that our clients’ plans will be disrupted again.”

“The perfect storm is approaching. Demand is back and pilots are working record amounts of overtime, but we still see our customers getting stuck and ruining their vacation plans,” Ambrosi said.

“When there are delays or cancellations, the pilots share in our passengers’ frustration,” he continued.

Passengers have taken to social media to complain about the impact of the delays and cancellations, with many claiming they are “nervous about flying”.

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After the airline industry was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic, pilots played an important role in getting airlines up and running again, although their wages have not risen since the 2016 negotiations.

According to a report from the Department of Transportation, U.S. consumers filed more than triple the number of complaints against U.S. airlines in April, compared to pre-pandemic levels, as on-time arrivals fell.

Earlier this month, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg arranged a virtual meeting with the chief executives of major US airlines to discuss thousands of recent flight cancellations and delays over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. He urged airlines to ensure that they can reliably operate scheduled summer schedules.

Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. airlines, said Friday it wants to know the FAA’s staffing plans for the July 4 holiday weekend, “so we can plan accordingly.”

The industry group’s comments could serve as a preemptive defense in the event that airlines again face thousands of canceled and delayed flights over the holiday weekend, when travel is expected to hit new peaks in the pandemic era.

“The industry is actively and nimbly doing everything possible to create a positive customer experience as it is in an airline’s inherent interest to keep customers happy so that they return for future business,” said Nicholas Calio, president of the airline. trade group, in a letter. to Buttigieg.

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