Brother, can you spare $250,000?
Delta Air Lines is paying out bonuses to management employees to compensate them for pay cuts mandated in 2020 as part of the airline’s pandemic belt-tightening. An airline spokesperson confirmed the payments.
The carrier is paying out these management bonuses while on government payroll support and they aren’t offering any ‘make goods’ to front line employees who have seen their hours (and thus pay) cut, or for lower-level employees who in some cases were reduced to three or four day work weeks and received less pay.
According to a Delta employee with knowledge of the matter, the bonuses break down as follows:
- Managers (Grades 8-10): $8,000
- General Managers (Grade 11): $25,000
- Directors & Managing Directors (Grades 12-13): $25,000 – $250,000
- Sr. Vice Presidents: $250,000 or more
Delta went to great lengths to avoid furloughing any employees during the pandemic, while carriers like American and United furloughed over 15,000 workers apiece. They did this through aggressive efforts to encourage voluntary departures, reduced hours for employees who remained on payroll, and finding other jobs in the company for staff to do while reducing use of contractors and outsourcing.
Much of customer service and above- and below-the wing wing employee compensation has come in the form of profit sharing, where Delta has been by far the most generous in the industry. Employees aren’t seeing profit sharing for 2020, and saw pay cut through reduced work as well. However they’ve been fully paid for the work they did do, and don’t benefit from this program.
Instead, Delta’s make-good focuses strictly on manager-level workers only, who in some cases worked as much or more in 2020 as in 2019, but for less pay. As Delta spokesperson Anthony Black explains,
While all Delta people were affected by the worst year in our history, following a comprehensive pay review of all levels in our organization below the executive officer level, we identified levels that were disproportionately impacted as a result of last year’s events and made a one-time adjustment payment.
This is all happening as the U.S. House of Representatives passed the President’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package which includes a third airline bailout, meaning more payroll subsidies for Delta and other airlines. Yet Delta is voluntarily taking on additional payroll cost, for their highest paid workers, while taxpayers are being asked to cover the expense.
One positive spin to all this, though, is that Delta doesn’t see the need for continued belt-tightening among management employees, and this suggests the world – and airline industry – may be on the cusp of recovering.