Seventeen thousand Delta Air Lines employees, with an average of 25 years of service, have taken early departure packages according to a new internal memo from the carrier’s CEO Ed Bastian.
Even with this many people leaving the airline, Bastian says it helps them towards their goal of minimizing furloughs – it’s not, it seems, enough to eliminate layoffs. (In contrast, Southwest Arilines – when it got close to its early out goal, announced they wouldn’t furlough at least through the end of the year.)
Departing employees – who date back to predecessor airlines including Northwest, Western and Pan Am – are “heroes” according to the title of the memo. By shedding more senior staff, rather than furloughing junior staff, Delta will not only downsize but have lower payroll costs going forward. They become more cost-competitive, retaining more junior staff than would have been able to stay working for the airline under a straight seniority-based layoff scheme.