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Delta Offers Voluntary Severance Programs To Staff

Posted in Airline News, Delta AirNo comments

Delta Air Lines Inc., the world’s biggest carrier, will offer voluntary severance payouts to a majority of the 75,000 employees at Delta and Northwest’s mainline operations as part of a plan to cut an unspecified number of jobs, executives said Friday.

Chief Executive Richard Anderson and President Ed Bastian said in a memo to employees that the program is similar to one earlier this year that Delta used to trim about 4,000 jobs. Northwest previously trimmed jobs of its own before being acquired by Delta on Oct. 29.

The executives said the cuts are necessary because Delta will be reducing systemwide capacity in 2009 by 6 percent to 8 percent because the weak economy has eroded demand for seats on airplanes.

“These capacity reductions will reduce the number of people needed to operate the airline,” the executives said. “Consistent with how we have managed headcount reductions in the past, we again will offer voluntary programs to Delta employees including those who have joined from Northwest.”

While the company did not say how many jobs it is seeking to cut, it said its goal is to achieve all necessary reductions through attrition, limited hiring and the introduction of the voluntary severance programs. Spokeswoman Betsy Talton said the majority of mainline employees are eligible to apply for the severance payouts, though she could not provide a specific number.

Delta and Northwest’s mainline operations include 75,000 employees. The entire company, including regional subsidiaries Comair, Mesaba and Compass, has about 85,000 employees. The 12,000 pilots of Delta and Northwest and certain management and administrative employees are not eligible for the voluntary severance programs.

The voluntary severance programs, to be offered in January, include one for employees with 10 or more completed years of service, whose completed years of age and service add up to at least 55. The second program is an early-out program that will be offered to those employees who do not qualify for the first program but who are frontline/contract ground and flight attendant employees with five or more years of service and merit/salaried employees hired before the first of next year.

Delta hinted Dec. 2 at an investor conference that more job cuts could be on the way as it disclosed its capacity reduction plans for 2009. Domestic capacity in 2009 will be reduced 8 percent to 10 percent compared to 2008, while international capacity will be reduced 3 percent to 5 percent next year compared to this year.

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