Delta Offers Voluntary Buyouts For Pilots

Delta Air Lines said Thursday it is offering voluntary retirement packages to pilots as it looks to cut costs.

Delta, which said earlier this year that it would grant voluntary buyouts to more than 2,100 employees, did not indicate how many jobs it is looking to cut with the pilot program.

Lee Moak, chairman of the Delta pilot union's executive committee, said in a Wednesday memo that enrollment in the plan would run from June 1 through July 15. He added that pilots who elect to depart could receive up to nine months of severance pay and other benefits.

Delta, which merged with Northwest Airlines last year to create the world's biggest carrier, has about 12,400 pilots. Pilot union spokeswoman Kelly Regus said 9,400 pilots meet the criteria for the voluntary program.

Airlines have been looking to hold down costs as travel demand weakened in the recession. In March, Delta announced plans to cut additional international capacity starting in September and said it might need to lose more jobs.

"Delta continues to take every step possible to avoid involuntary reductions of frontline employees as a result of current economic conditions," Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said in an email confirming the voluntary retirement program for pilots.

Delta eliminated 4,000 jobs last year through voluntary exit packages.

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