Things are not looking so good over at Delta. The airline just announced that 30,000 employees are being offered severance packages, with the goal of cutting 2,000 jobs. The primary aim of the cost-cutting is to offset jet fuel costs that have nearly doubled in the last year.
The severance program is geared toward flight attendants, airport agents, and administrative and management positions, but not to pilots, who work under a separate union contract with Delta.
What does this mean for flyers? Fewer flights to choose from. According to this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the airline will cut domestic capacity by 10 percent and eliminate some flights or seasonal routes to select international destinations. According to the article, "Delta said it expects to decrease utilization or to park up to 20 mainline jets and up to 25 regional jets."
I asked our own Tim Winship for his take on the situation. He said, "Aside from the flight cuts, which may inconvenience some flyers in smaller markets, the issue for travelers will be customer service: With 2,000 fewer employees, will Delta be able to maintain acceptable service levels in such key areas as ticketing, check-in, boarding, reservations, and so on? The danger is that Delta will not only cut fat, but muscle and bone as well." He also questioned the seriousness of the plan, suggesting that Delta may be using this as a way of pushing its pilots to reach accord with Northwest pilots on the seniority issues that have roadblocked merger efforts.
We'll keep an eye on the situation and update you on how the cuts affect travelers.