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The April Advance Entitlement bid is set up to “balance staffing between Captain and First Officer positions” posting 1,036 Captain positions and 577 FO positions.
One year ago Ed Bastion, CEO of Delta was quoted saying “the speed of the demand fall-off is unlike anything we’ve seen. We’re currently seeing more cancellations than new bookings over the next month.” Delta was implementing plans to ground hundreds of aircraft while accelerating fleet retirements. Bastian was also quoted saying “we’re going to be smaller coming out of this. Certainly quite a bit smaller than when we went into it.”
Recall, back in June 2020, Delta published a displacement bid affecting 7,096 pilots followed shortly by LOA 20-02 asking for voluntary retirements while warning that 2,558 pilots could be forced into furlough.
June was full of uncertainty for those on Delta’s seniority list, 16% (over 2,300) pilots found themselves unassigned to fly an aircraft. John Laughter, Delta’s Director of Flight Operations urged participation in the Voluntary Early Out Program (VEOP) while warning it simply wouldn’t be enough, “early retirements alone likely won’t be enough to avoid pilot furloughs altogether.”
Prior to the pandemic reductions, Delta employed 14,657 pilots. The April bid will close with a projected seniority list about 75% smaller than their 2020 peak, with a target staffing level of about 11,100 pilot positions reflecting “coverage for departing pilots anticipated to leave between now and July 2022, reflecting a 17% increase to the projected staffing required for July 2021.”
The bid shows optimism for possible hiring in late 2021 or early 2022 creating 350 unbid positions.
Fleets and bases will continue to see change and contractual obligations will lead to training pain as the airline positions itself for recovery. Pilot training is expected to begin as soon as the May bid period is published.
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