Delta Air Lines has offered a 34 per cent cumulative pay increase to its pilots over three years in a new contract, demonstrating the bargaining power aviators are enjoying in a short-staffed industry with booming demand.
The pilots will get a raise of at least 18 per cent on the date the contract is signed, another 5 per cent after one year, 4 per cent after two years and 4 per cent after three years, according to a draft contract seen by Reuters.
Delta pilots will also get a one-time payment equivalent to 22 per cent of their earnings between 2020 and 2022 after the ratification of the deal.
The Atlanta-based carrier has also promised to ensure that pay rates of Delta pilots will exceed those of their counterparts at United Airlines and American Airlines by at least 1 per cent.
In a memo to its members, the union representing Delta pilots said the deal represents more than $7.2 billion of cumulative value increases over the next four years.
Delta said it is "pleased to have reached an agreement in principle for a new pilot contract, one that recognises the contributions of our pilots to Delta’s success".
If the deal is approved by Delta pilots, it is widely expected to act as a benchmark for contract negotiations at United and American.
Delta pilots have been working without a new contract for nearly three years after their old contract became amendable in December 2019, fuelling frustration.
They voted overwhelmingly in October to authorise a strike if negotiators could not reach an agreement on the new contract.