Coronavirus losses lead Delta to ask for more unpaid leave volunteers

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said 35,000 workers had already volunteered, but more were needed

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Delta Air Lines is reportedly asking more employees to sign up for voluntary unpaid leaves of absence in an attempt to lower costs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline’s CEO Ed Bastian said Thursday in a memo to employees that 35,000 workers had already stepped up, but more volunteers were needed, Reuters reported.

CORONAVIRUS RELIEF PACKAGE FOR AIRLINES COULD COME AS EARLY AS THIS WEEKEND

To attract more volunteers, Delta is also improving benefits that workers will receive while on leave and offering longer terms of up to 12 months of leave, according to Reuters.

Delta did not immediately respond to an inquiry from FOX Business.

Workers unload baggage from a Delta Air Lines flight. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Bastian had previously asked employees to sign up for “voluntary short-term, unpaid leave” back in mid-March after the airline announced it was canceling all flights to Europe to cut costs, Fox News reported.

At the time, Bastian also told employees that the company would freeze hiring and reduce the use of consultants and contractors.

AIRLINES STRUGGLE DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC WITH GROUNDED FLEETS

On Thursday during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, President Trump said that a relief package for “some of or all of the airlines” could come as early as this weekend.

"The airline business has been hit very hard as everybody knows,” Trump said. “We are going to be in a position to do a lot to help them so that they keep their employees and they save their businesses.”

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The $2.2 trillion stimulus bill signed into law on March 27 provides $25 billion in grants for passenger airlines, $4 billion for cargo air carriers and $3 billion for airline contractors such as caterers.

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The grants are to primarily maintain payroll. Companies must guarantee that they will keep their workers employed through at least September 30 in order to qualify for the program.

According to Reuters, 275 companies have already applied for the grants.

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