Delta and pilot union reach agreement in principle to avoid furloughs until 2022

The air carrier had previously planned to lay off about 1,941 pilots in October unless it received additional federal funding from Congress

Delta Air Lines and the union that represents its pilots have reached a preliminary deal to avoid furloughs through Jan. 1, 2022, the airline said Thursday.

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The Air Line Pilots Association still needs approval from Delta's 13,000 pilots for the agreement to move forward. The deal comes days before the Atlanta-based air carrier was slated to furlough nearly 1,941 pilots beginning Sunday.

In a memo to employees on Thursday, Delta's Operation's Chief John Laughter said the furlough effective date was pushed back to Nov. 28. while praising the deal, which contains "several quality of life key goals."

"We are confident this can help Delta to be better positioned through the long and choppy COVID-19 pandemic recovery," the memo read.

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Other Delta employees such as flight attendants have avoided furloughs by employees who volunteered to take voluntary buyouts and unpaid leave.

The travel industry has been sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic as much of the world's travel industry came to a halt amid government-mandated lockdowns.

Airlines were initially prohibited from laying off employees or reducing workers' pay through Sept. 30 under the terms of the $25 billion bailout that was part of the CARES Act.

Lawmakers and the White House have been deadlocked over what to include in a future aid package after weeks of failed negotiations.

In a memo to pilots on Monday, Delta pilots union chairman Ryan Schnitzler wrote that “what transpires in the next seven days will impact not just the new generation of Delta pilots but also Delta itself for many years to come," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Messages to the union were not returned.

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Fox Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report.