Delta is giving bonuses to managers whose pay has been lower because of the pandemic

Delta Air Lines Bombardier Boeing 757-200 aircraft as they arrive on final approach to New York’s JFK John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines, which received billions of dollars in federal aid last year, is paying managers anywhere from a few thousand dollars to more than $ 100,000 to offset wage cuts at the start of the pandemic last year.

Frontline workers such as flight attendants, pilots and others in non-managerial positions do not receive any bonuses.

Last year, Delta cut managerial salaries and cut the hours of thousands of workers by 25% to weather the pandemic’s drop in travel requirements, a policy criticized by some lawmakers. The Atlanta-based airline avoided involuntary vacations or job cuts, thanks in part to the 18,000 employees, roughly 20% of Delta’s pre-pandemic workforce, who accepted takeovers and early retirement packages last year. The airline posted a record loss of $ 12.4 billion in 2020.

“While all Delta employees were affected by the worst year in our history, after a comprehensive salary review of all levels in our organization below the executive level, we identified levels that were disproportionately affected as a result of last year’s events and created a one . ” -Time adjustment payment, “Delta said in a statement.

Delta received $ 5.6 billion in federal aid last year under a $ 25 billion program passed under the CARES Act in March that banned airlines from downsizing. The airline expects to receive $ 2.9 billion this quarter as part of an expansion of the program passed by Congress late last year, Delta said in a release last month.

Criticized the move, first reported on Sunday by the View from the Wing travel blog, the pilots union said it was against the spirit of the CARES law to support federal payroll that airlines received last year in return for that they had not involuntarily cut workers.

“While we are confident that Delta will recover quickly from the country’s pandemic, paying special bonuses to management while the airline is still burning cash is premature and inappropriate,” said Chris Riggins, spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association. in a statement. “We also believe that paying bonuses that are limited to management is inconsistent with the spirit of the CARES Act. This was an unfortunate and short-sighted decision.”

Delta says it follows provisions of the CARES Act that have limited executive compensation. Managers’ remuneration may vary based on company performance. Delta says it continued to pay rewards to Frontline and other employees for achieving operational goals, but those amounts are lower than the bonuses.

The airline and its U.S. competitors are on track to receive additional federal payroll allowances.

On Friday, the House passed a $ 1.9 billion coronavirus relief package that includes a third round of federal payroll for airlines. If the bill passes the Senate, U.S. airlines will receive $ 14 billion in exchange for paying workers through September 30th. U.S. airlines have already received $ 40 billion in payroll support for two more coronavirus relief packages.

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