ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Delta Air Lines pilots protested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday, demanding the company address pilot shortages and scheduling issues.
They marched outside the airport’s South Terminal to a designated spot, where they launched a silent protest the group referred to as informational picketing.READ MORE: College savings program launched for Atlanta kindergarteners
“We’re here to send a message to Delta Air Lines. Our pilots are tired and frustrated,” said Captain Evan Baach, a spokesperson with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the largest pilots’ union in the world.
ALPA represents 62,000 pilots at 38 different carriers worldwide. Accordingly, the union and its Delta Master Executive Council represent Delta’s more than 13,000 pilots.
“We are frustrated with our schedules. We’ve worked record amounts of overtime. We’re working longer days, shorter nights,” Baach said. “There’s no buffer in the system for a bad weather day, for example.”
They say the airline is flying more flights than it has passengers, and pilots are volunteering to fly on off-days.
“We are here on our off day. That is how much we care about this issue,” said Baach. “We want the company to come to us, work with us on common-sense solutions.”
Delta passengers weighed in on the situation.READ MORE: Biden to travel Tuesday to Buffalo following mass shooting
“I definitely can’t blame them, especially right now. I definitely give them credit for everything that they’ve been doing. We love Delta. We always fly Delta,” said Caitlin Smith, who was traveling from Atlanta back to Massachusetts.
Other passengers were equally vocal.
“I just got a good look at one of their signs, and I saw that it said they’re tired. I understand. I’m sure they are,” said Jeremy Vig, an Atlanta resident, and Delta passenger.
Baach emphasized that the pilots love their job. They just want to be dealt with fairly, he said.
“We love what we do. We love being airline pilots. We want to be safe and on time. We want to get our customers where they want to be, and we just want the company to work with us and staff the airline appropriately.”
Both the pilots and the air carrier say safety is their first priority. The pilots say they won’t fly planes if they’re too tired.MORE NEWS: Small plane crashes into Florida bridge, killing one person and injuring five
Delta Spokesperson Morgan Durrant issued the following statement on behalf of the airline:
This informational exercise by some of our off-duty pilots will not disrupt our operation for our customers. All of our pilot schedules meet or exceed safety requirements set by FAA as well as those outlined in our pilot contract. As we continue to deliver industry leading operational reliability and recover our network, we are also balancing ways to improve schedules for our pilots. All of our people, including our pilots, are working hard to restore our airline and deliver for our customers as we emerge from the pandemic. We are grateful for and proud of their efforts.