The pilots union at Delta Air Lines is seeking a nearly 40 percent compounded pay raise over a three year period as it restarts contract negotiations with management.
As Delta reports billions of dollars in profits, pilots say they want to recover from past pay cuts levied during the airline's bankruptcy and financial challenges in the past decade.
"While this proposal comes nowhere near fully restoring all the lost pay and benefits, it meaningfully advances the overall compensation," according to John Malone, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association at Delta, in written comments. "This proposal balances what the pilots need with what the company can afford."
The union opened negotiations with a proposal for an initial 22 percent increase in pay, followed by a 7 percent increase in pay in the second year and another 7 percent increase in the third year. Because it is an opening proposal, any final agreement could include far different numbers.
Delta commented that it will review the proposal from the pilots union and looks forward to negotiations "to reach an agreement that is good for both Delta and its pilots."
The proposal from the pilots union at the start of contract talks also comes after members voted down a previous deal, for the first time in Delta history.
The rejected pilots deal called for compounded pay raises of more than 21 percent over three years, along with a reduction in profit sharing. That deal would have increased estimated annual pay for a Delta first officer of a Boeing 717 from $134,030 to $162,780 by 2018. A Boeing 777 captain's annual pay would have increased from an estimated $271,740 to $330,030 by 2018, according to detailed information released for the pilots' vote on that deal.
The previous chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association at Delta resigned after the pilots' voted no on the proposed contract, and was replaced by Malone.
The pilots union said it polled its members and said pay, benefits and work rules are the most important issues.
"The market for pilots has become increasingly competitive and across the industry we are seeing an uptick in pay rates commensurate with airline profitability," according to Malone, who added that United Airlines pilots will be voting on a deal including "pay rates that will put them 16% above current Delta pay rates."