Delta, union in talks to avoid furloughs after 1,806 pilots take early retirement

FILE PHOTO: Delta Air Lines passenger planes are seen parked due to flight reductions made to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines DAL.N and the union representing its pilots said on Friday they remain in talks to avoid furloughs after 1,806 pilots agreed to early retirement programs, with the airline pointing to the outlook for a pandemic recovery as key to its final decision.

In a memo to pilots, Delta’s head of flight operations John Laughter said there had been “additional changes to travel demand and recovery forecasts” in recent weeks that the airline is assessing as it charts a path for a multi-year recovery.

Delta will communicate more next week, he said, without providing more details.

A Delta spokesman said “furloughs remain a last resort and we continue to stay engaged with ALPA to find a way to spread the flying among the pilots to reduce or avoid furloughs altogether.”

Delta had sent warnings of potential furloughs to 2,258 pilots, the Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) said in a statement, adding it hoped for additional voluntary options for pilots similar to programs at other major carriers.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool