RIF Across the Industry
- Deutsche Welle poses an interesting question: Will the Covid pandemic result in a pilot shortage? Carriers the world over are laying off or furloughing pilots, and some pilots could run the risk of losing their currency, especially if they seek employment outside the industry. Some European unions worry that when air travel demand returns, airlines will be faced with a pilot shortage as they spool back up. And even if pilots do return, they will need to be re-licensed and re-trained, which could take months.
- Delta joined the ranks of airlines that are warning of massive reductions in force. The Atlanta-based carrier said it started the process to notify pilots (mandated by the WARN Act in the U.S.) of possible furloughs. Delta and its pilot union (ALPA) have worked together for early-out and retirement packages to reduce headcount, but the carrier says these measures have not been enough. It may need to furlough 2,500 pilots on top of the more than 10,000 that have taken early out packages. CEO Ed Bastian has said it could take two years for Delta to recover to pre-pandemic traffic levels. Remember, U.S. carriers cannot furlough or lay employees until Oct. 1, as mandated by the CARES Act federal stimulus. American (see Covid crisis section below) is also warning of post Oct. 1 reductions in headcount. Other U.S. airlines will surely be cutting as well.
- That said, JetBlue and its pilot union have reached a deal that would protect pilot jobs through May 1 of next year. The deal would prevent the carrier from furloughing or laying off pilots. The ALPA union said it has agreed to some concessions, but that pay rates remain unchanged.
- Ryanair and its U.K. pilot union (BALPA) have struck a concessionary deal that cuts pilot pay by 20%, with the expectation that full pay is restored over the next four years. Additional concessions include changes to the airline’s rostering system and to annual leave, in order to give the airline flexibility in crew scheduling, the union and the airline said. The airline says the deal will allow it to preserve pilot jobs. More than 90% of pilots voted to accept the agreement.