Delta pilots walk the picket line ahead of the busy 4th of July travel weekend

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 5:53 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Passengers were greeted by hundreds of Delta pilots walking the picket line at airports across the country Thursday, including Hartsfield-Jackson, Delta’s home base.

“The Delta pilots have been frontline leaders throughout the pandemic and into the recovery,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chairman of the Delta Pilots Union.

The pilots are demanding change after months dealing with a staffing shortage.

“It’s time for them to work with us and get a good industry leading contract that the pilots have earned,” said Capt. Ambrosi.

Delta pilots last negotiated a contract back in 2016. They say they haven’t gotten a raise in nearly 3-and-half years. They want better compensation, better retirement benefits, and flight schedules that don’t leave pilots fatigued.

“They do have a right to picket, and they do have a right to want change,” said Jessica Blunt, a passenger arriving home from a trip to New York City Pride.

The airlines have struggled in recent months to keep up with passenger demand. Delta has seen some of the most delays and cancelations, often hundreds of flights being canceled in just one given weekend. Travel expert Kyle Potter says Delta isn’t the only airline dealing with a backlog of flights and pilot shortages. But he says Delta built its reputation around its on-time flights.

“It’s particularly painful for Delta because they had spent the last decade positioning themselves as most reliable airline in the U.S.,” said Potter from “They were the on-time machine, often going weeks (if not months) without canceling a single flight.”

He says the longer these troubles go on, the more it puts Delta’s entire brand at stake.

A Delta spokesperson says they’re committed to working with the pilots union on a new contract. Meanwhile, Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian acknowledged the flight disruptions in a letter to Delta SkyMiles members Thursday.

“Airport procedures are being updated, including earlier boarding to help ensure on-time departures and schedule changes at our largest connecting hub in Atlanta to help manage the volume of customers at the airport,” said Bastian. “We’ve activated our Peach Corps, a program that brings in hundreds of employees from our corporate offices to the airports in Atlanta and New York to assist with check-in, baggage drop-off, airport wayfinding, using kiosks, serving you at our Delta Sky Clubs and other helpful tasks.”

Bastian also cited the FAA in this letter. He says Delta is working with the federal agency to improve air traffic management.

While passengers are frustrated with delays and cancelations, many say they are standing with the pilots.

“Change has to happen, and it starts with community and I’m happy they’re coming together to make something happen, said Jessica Blunt.