Common Questions about Scope


What is causing the ongoing scope violations?

When Delta enters into a Joint Venture (JV) and has not reached agreement with ALPA on a JV-specific production balance, it triggers default scope protections aimed at ensuring the Company does not use its arrangements with foreign carriers to outsource flying that would or should otherwise be performed by Delta pilots.

For example, Section 1 E. 8. of the PWA contains provisions that establish block hour minimums for Delta flying in certain country-to-country markets served by Delta’s JV partners. Specifically, in any three-month period, Delta’s scheduled flying in those markets cannot fall below what Delta flew in the same three months in the year before the relevant JV went into effect. Many of Delta’s scope violations in this contract cycle are the result of Delta’s failure to abide by block hour floors triggered by the Korean Air JV. In other words, Delta reduced its flying in some markets below what it flew before the JVs began.

Aren’t these violations just minor technical violations?

There is no such thing as a “minor” or “technical” scope violation; Section 1 is the foundation of our PWA. Disregard for its terms erodes the integrity of our collective bargaining agreement. Pay rates and work rules become worthless if Delta flying can be outsourced. And Delta’s failure to comply with JV-related scope protections are not just any violations.

For example, in some three-month compliance periods, Delta has fallen thousands of block hours short of minimum flying requirements triggered by Delta’s JV with Korean Air. Even more critically, when the Company fails to meet its required block hour minimums, it fails to comply with the conditions required for a JV to be considered a “permitted arrangement” with a foreign carrier under the Scope Clause.

Isn’t the Scope section of the PWA outdated?

Our Scope provisions are as current as our PWA. The PWA, which is a legally binding contract, was last amended December 1, 2016. During those negotiations, ALPA and Delta had the opportunity to make changes to the PWA, just as both parties have the ability to do so during our current Section 6 negotiations. ALPA is seeking changes to PWA Scope provisions to further protect our current flying and ensure Delta pilots see an equitable share of growth generated by JVs. But unless and until ALPA and Delta agree to new terms, both parties remain bound by their obligations under the existing agreement.

How are the number of violations determined?

The PWA is specific in its language about the measurement periods used to evaluate Scope compliance. For instance, PWA Section 1 E. 8. prescribes JV-specific minimum block hour floors measured on a rolling three-month basis (e.g., January-March, February-April, March-May, etc.). ALPA counts each rolling three-month compliance period in which the Company fails to meet the block hour floor triggered by a particular JV as a its own (a single) violation.

How is the Section 1 E. 8. block hour floor set and to which markets does that floor apply?

Section 1 E. 8. dictates that Delta’s scheduled flying between the United States and countries served by its JV partners cannot fall below what Delta flew in the 12 months before the relevant JV went into effect. Specifically, Section 1 E. 8. sets block hour floors for Delta flying between the U.S. and a JV partner’s home country as well as for Delta flying between the U.S. and any other country that JV partner serves non-stop from the U.S.

Based on the language and intent of the PWA, ALPA believes that Section 1 E. 8. establishes separate block hour floors for each U.S.-to-foreign country market served by the Company’s JV partners. The Company has taken the position that Section 1 E. 8. imposes an aggregate block hour floor that measures Delta’s combined flying between the U.S. and any and all qualifying foreign countries. This dispute is one of several questions that will be decided by the arbitrator in the pending Korean Air JV grievance case.

What is the status of the MEC grievances filed over the Korean Air JV violations?

An arbitrator has now heard both ALPA’s and Delta’s arguments related to eight of the Scope violations related to the Korean JV, and a ruling is expected in the near future. That ruling will address a number of issues, including the dispute over how to measure compliance with Section 1 E. 8. 

Regardless of how the arbitrator decides the question of how to measure Section 1 E. 8., it will not diminish the gravity of the Company’s conduct. Even under the Company’s preferred interpretation of Section 1 E. 8., the number of scope violations Delta has committed this contract cycle would still total 19. That is fundamentally unacceptable under any interpretation of the PWA.