In a report from an airline labor group, American Airlines’ pilot union, APA, is urging members to “Apply to Delta now” as contract negotiations aren’t progressing.
Contract Negotiations Not Progressing
In an email to members, an American Airlines pilot group for Philadelphia-based pilots strongly recommended that American Airlines pilots apply to Delta Air Lines adding, “Don’t hope for the best, hedge your bet and apply to Delta now.” Elsewhere in the document the co-authored letter from chair DiOrio and vice chair Wilkes put in all capital letters, “APPLY TO DELTA NOW AS A PLACEHOLDER” if quality of life is important to [members.]
The email, shared by aviation insider JonNYC, was sent by Philadelphia-based reps and outlined the frustrations and challenges of obtaining a competitive agreement with management.
— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) February 9, 2023
One of the more scathing pieces addressed just how far behind the compensation package is at American vs. Delta:
“Not that we want to rub it in, but pilots at Delta will make substantially more than pilots here at American. This is even before Delta’s industry-leading pay rates take effect. This disparity is only further worsened by this management’s insistence that all wholly owned employees be included in the total profit sharing pool, which reduces the profit sharing payout for American Airlines pilots by about 10%. So even if this management team can figure out how to match Delta profits, we will still receive 10% less profit sharing as a result of the larger payout pool here at American.” – shared by ViewFromTheWing.
Funny they should say that as Delta just put out a marketing piece touting its profit sharing which bests both United and American combined, not just in percentage shared but in net nominal dollars, $7.3bn compared to a combined $3.6bn at the other two carriers.
It’s also worth noting that the subtle dig, “So even if this management team can figure out how to match Delta profits” is something that this site has been highlighting for years. American Airlines so rarely makes money from flying passengers and cargo relying nearly entirely on its loyalty program for profit. While many airlines see a substantial financial impact from its loyalty program, few have been so incredibly profit averse outside of the loyalty program as American Airlines team.
Delta Has Been A Good Landing Spot
The letter is clear to mention that transitioning pilots are fast-tracked for a promotion with many first officers finding themselves in the captain seat quickly.
“We have been told by newer pilots that they came to American because of the quick upward movement and upgrades. Not so fast! Delta’s most recent bid includes upgrades after just a few months at Delta. Captain upgrades with less than 1 year seniority”
It’s no secret that pilots are being poached at the moment. United has touted that it is seeing new pilots from American, Delta, and Southwest as well as ULCCs. It seems surprising that United would market itself as some sort of a pilot haven given that as recently as December, CEO Kirby was greeted by a picket line and pilots literally turning their back to him.
It would be hard to argue with Delta’s eight-year performance record of profit-sharing as well as the seniority track if the above quote holds water.
Southwest Is Ripe For A Contract Improvement
It was reported this week that a meeting between Southwest Airlines pilot representatives resulted in those pilots walking out of the meeting and Southwest CEO Bob Jordan flew American Airlines back to Dallas.
Unlike the other carriers, Southwest Airlines had a huge meltdown over the holidays in a very public fashion that was not only reputationally damaging but reported to cost more than $800 million. Southwest has more at stake with customers that have particularly trusted the carrier over the last three decades and can ill-afford pilot strikes that have been proposed for May.
Management will need to make a deal, even a bad one for the airline, to avoid further damage to the carrier’s reputation. That will put more pressure on American to be competitive in its pilot contract potentially, though American management has not always responded to labor strife with a clear-headed approach in this writer’s opinion.
Labor struggles are nothing new for American Airlines current management team and frankly, neither are labor groups assertions that negotiations aren’t improving. However, the aforementioned labor group’s leadership makes salient points in favor of moving to Delta and the Atlanta-based carrier has the receipts to backup that they are the best destination for pilots.
What do you think? Should American Airlines pilots hedge their bets and apply to Delta?