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Delta pilots demonstrate for better working conditions

220701 Delta pilots picket.jpg
Amanda Andrews / GPB News
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Delta Air Lines pilots demonstrate outside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on June 30, 2022, demanding better working conditions.

Ahead of the busy Fourth of July weekend, Delta Air Lines pilots are protesting what they say are poor working conditions.

Over 400 pilots and flight attendants gathered at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, demanding change in four areas: pay, quality of life, scheduling and retirement benefits.

Capt. Jason Ambrosi has been flying with Delta for over 20 years, and wants the company to bargain with the pilots.

“We picketed earlier this year about the schedules alone, the fatiguing schedules," he said. "This one is about it's time for a contract. The company is not moving at the pace that is needed to get us an agreement that these pilots have earned through their hard work.”

Delta Air Lines hasn’t renegotiated a contract with pilots in about six years. Early in the pandemic, the airline retired nearly 2,000 pilots. Now, as travel levels rise back up, the remaining pilots are picking up overtime to meet demand.

1st Officer Shane Corbett has been flying with Delta for six years and said pilots are fatigued.

“They've been spending more time away from home, and it's starting to show," he said. “Delta has scheduled more flights than they have pilots to fly them and that — they've been overly reliant on the Delta pilots picking up voluntary overtime.”

By the end of this summer, Corbett said, pilots will have worked more overtime hours than they did in 2018 and 2019 combined. Atlanta airport officials say they expect to see around 1.2 million travelers go through Hartsfield-Jackson this weekend.

This story comes to WUGA through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Amanda Andrews