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Although air travel demand is still far below what it was before the pandemic outbreak, Delta is preparing for the recovery due to the vaccination rollout. The airline is planning to bring back 400 junior pilots to full flying status by the summer.
“We’re excited to be able to offer 400 full-time pilot positions now, but it’s important to remember that the recovery road ahead of us will be long and choppy,” added Laughter. “However, we’re cautiously optimistic that demand will increase as vaccinations roll out across the world, and we look forward to restoring all affected pilots to full flying status as the recovery continues.”
As Delta is getting $2.9 billion in the second round of government payroll support, it will switch from the current scheme of partial payment for its employees (that was introduced in exchange for furloughs) to the full pay. This condition is mandatory to receive the aid. However, when the support program expires at the end of March, Delta will keep the right to reintroduce partial-pay for its junior pilots.
Delta will also have to retrain many pilots for new aircraft types as it has retired a lot of MD-88s and MD-90s jets. 26 out of its 91 Boeing 717s are also permanently retired. Since many of its junior pilots previously flew these aircraft types, they will have to go through a training process, with Airbus A220 being a point of focus.