Fellow Delta Pilots,

Last month, Delta announced record earnings for the September quarter.  Congratulations to each of you for your contributions to our Company’s success. Delta pilots did the heavy-lifting this summer by flying an unprecedented number of Green Slips coupled with high ALVs.  Our willingness to step up to the plate enabled the Company to capitalize on revenue opportunities and register a historic third quarter.  I also want to recognize our fellow frontline employees who also went above and beyond to keep the operation moving and take care of a record number of passengers. It will be a summer to remember for us all.

With the fourth quarter now underway, I want to update you on negotiations and current events as well as provide perspective on our Scope Clause based on recent arbitrators’ rulings.


We are now past the six-month mark since the exchange of contract openers on April 5. We are negotiating for a new Pilot Working Agreement during the most favorable environment in Delta’s and our history. I hope you’ve had a chance to read Negotiators’ Notepad 19-08, which contains a comprehensive overview of the progress made so far.

With the amendable date just under two months away, the MEC met in special session Oct. 28-30 to prepare for the next phase of negotiations. We held most of the meeting in closed session; however, I want you to know that your elected representatives, negotiators, committees and support teams are working very hard on your behalf.  During recent negotiating sessions, we have seen improving trends at the table after months of slow progress. I appreciate the cooperation and look forward to more as we march towards a tentative agreement. I will keep you updated as we close in on the Dec. 31 amendable date. In the meantime, you can expect more communications  coming your way on contractual items essential to the Delta pilots. 

To put our negotiations into perspective, you may recall the recent MEC Brief “The Perfect Storm” that discussed the circumstance that led to this summer’s operational challenges. Contract 2019 is also a perfect storm of sorts, but one of opportunity. Delta is earning record profits, has built a business model able to sustain economic cycles, has the cash flow to invest in shareholders and joint ventures, and has dedicated employees willing to go the extra mile to maximize revenue and serve our customers. Hiring pilots to staff the summer of 2020 will be a priority moving forward, as highlighted in a Flight Operations memo distributed last week. An industry-leading contract will help Delta attract and retain qualified pilots among the shrinking pool – and allow the Company to focus on achieving another record year of profits in 2020. 


Last Friday, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) announced an organization drive for Delta flight attendants. The Delta MEC has historically stayed out of organization drives for other work groups at Delta despite our belief that all employees should have the right to organize and negotiate for their pay and working conditions as a group. However, these aren’t our battles to fight. The AFA has long been a partner to ALPA. In fact, the AFA started as a division of ALPA representing flight attendants and later split to become its own organization. The AFA has stood with us on many of our issues, including Flags of Convenience and Secondary Barriers. I spoke to AFA President Sara Nelson last week, who once again confirmed her appreciation for our parternship on these areas of common concern and wished the Delta pilots luck in our ongoing Section 6 negotiations.


The recent arbitrators’ rulings that upheld our Scope Clause language is an essential milestone for the Delta pilots.  By way of background, the first violations began popping up as one-offs in 2016.  By 2017-2018, these violations had become a recurrent theme. By 2019, it was time for ALPA to act when it appeared there was no mitigation plan in the offing. We defended our contract by filing grievances and requesting an expedited System Board of Adjustment with an arbitrator. We prevailed in both cases despite any spin you may hear about how the grievances were “measured.”

I want to talk briefly about the remedy phase of these grievances as I know some of you have questions about what we can expect. In both scenarios, ALPA requested that the liability award and remedy phases be separate or “bifurcated.”  While this may take some time, the point of the grievances was not to get pennies on the dollars as compensation for the blatant disregard of our job security. Our Scope Clause is not for sale. We will enforce our contract and insist that Delta honors its agreement with us just as management honors its contracts with other businesses. 

Scope is Section One of our PWA for a reason. Without contractual job protections that stipulate who can perform what for Delta, we would be at the whim of the management team du jour to potentially outsource our jobs when convenient to do so.  More than any employee group, the Delta pilots are married to our Company, and Delta flying is sacrosanct – it’s just that simple.

Going forward, ALPA will continue to monitor and defend our contract to ensure Delta honors it – every section, every LOA and every MOU. The goal is guaranteeing Delta pilots have an equitable share of growth as employees and stakeholders in our company. We have invested our careers with Delta, and it’s appropriate and reasonable that we insist Delta reward our investment in kind. 

In unity,
Ryan Schnitzler, Chairman
Delta Master Executive Council