Delta pilots approve contract to boost pay by more than 30%

ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines pilots have easily approved a new contract that will raise their pay by more than 30% over four years and likely lead to similar agreements covering unionized pilots at other major U.S. airlines.

The Airline Pilots Association said 78% of Delta pilots who voted supported the contract. Delta has about 15,000 pilots.

Smaller airlines face pilot shortages as larger airlines recruit from their ranks. While the major carriers say they have enough pilots, the shortage is giving unions leverage to bargain for generous pay increases. The union said the Delta deal would raise $7 billion in wages.

The ratification follows pilots’ picketing last summer and about six months after Delta pilots voted to authorize a strike.

“This industry-leading contract is a direct result of the unity and determination of Delta pilots,” said Darren Hartman, pilot and union representative.

John Latter, the Atlanta-based airline’s chief operating officer, said the contract “recognizes the contributions of our pilots to Delta.” He said the airline is committed to reaching an agreement that will keep Delta a top destination for aviation employees.

The contract takes effect Thursday and runs through 2026, when it could be amended — under federal law, airline union contracts are not valid.

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