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Arbitrator Upholds ALPA’s Korean Air JV Scope Grievances

The arbitrator who heard the first four Korean Air JV Scope grievances—MEC Grievance Numbers 18-22, 19-03, 19-04 and 19-08— has issued a liability award on all eight Scope violations alleged by ALPA.

The arbitrator sustained all four grievances and confirmed that the Company violated Section 1of the PWA in all eight instances, including one violation of Section 1 E. 10. and seven violations of Section 1 E. 8. This ruling reaffirms the Company’s obligation to abide by the terms of the Delta pilots’ PWA and its Scope clause. ALPA will post the arbitrator’s ruling on the MEC website shortly.

Key Takeaways

  • The arbitrator sustained ALPA’s first four Scope grievances related to the Korean Air JV.
  • The arbitrator held that the Company committed a total of eight violations of Section 1of the PWA, including one violation of Section 1 E. 10. and seven violations of Section 1 E. 8.
  • Now that these violations have been proven, the case will proceed to a second phase to determine the remedies for the violations.

How did Delta violate the PWA?

Section 1 E. 10. of the PWA requires that, before Delta finalizes a new Joint Venture (JV) or an amendment to an existing JV, it must meet with ALPA for the purposes of negotiating PWA terms specific to that new or amended JV.

The arbitrator found that Delta failed to meet with ALPA to negotiate terms before it finalized the Korean Air JV, and in so doing violated Section 1 E. 10.

When Delta and ALPA have not agreed on PWA terms specific to a particular JV, that JV is subject to certain Scope default requirements. Those include Section 1 E. 8., which imposes a block hour floor that prohibits Delta from reducing its flying in certain country-to-country markets below what it flew in the twelve months prior to the JV. In the case of the Korean Air JV, Section 1 E. 8.’s block hour floor protects Delta flying between the U.S. and Korean Air’s home country of South Korea. In addition, because Korean Air offers nonstop service between the U.S. and Japan, Section 1 E. 8.’s block hour floor also protects Delta’s U.S.-Japan flying.

The arbitrator ruled that, in all seven compliance periods covered by the grievances, the Company failed to schedule the minimum required block hours of Delta flying between the U.S. and South Korea/Japan, and has therefore committed seven violations of Section 1 E. 8.

The arbitrator also held that compliance with Section 1 E. 8. is measured using a single aggregate block hour floor for flying between the U.S. and South Korea/Japan, rather than separate block hour floors for U.S.-South Korea and U.S.-Japan flying. Although ALPA had advocated for a different approach, the arbitrator confirmed that the Company violated Section 1 E. 8. in all seven alleged instances regardless of how compliance is measured. Under the measurement method adopted by the arbitrator, the Company would be considered in violation of Section 1 E. 8.’s Korean Air JV block hour floor from the time the JV went into effect through the compliance period ending March 31, 2019, and would be considered back in compliance as of the period ending April 30, 2019.

What happens next?

This award only decided the question of whether the Company in fact committed the various Scope violations ALPA had alleged in the grievances. Now that those violations have been proven, the case will move into the second phase of the proceeding to determine the remedy for those violations. As ALPA continues to vigorously pursue this case, we are seeking a just result that meaningfully enforces the terms of our PWA, makes our pilots whole, and protects the integrity of our Scope clause going forward.

In addition, while we enforce the PWA, ALPA will work actively to prevent future violations and pursue negotiated solutions that make good on Captain Jim Graham’s promise from his October 2018 memo that Delta will “remain committed to international growth on Delta metal and to equitable growth between Delta and our JV partners.”