By Charlotte Seet
Delta Air Lines Looking to Hire More Pilots By Next Summer
With this summer showing that leisure travel in the U.S continues to promise steady progress towards a return to pre-Covid volume levels – having screen over two million air travelers as of this past Sunday – and it is also noted that more business travelers are looking to cross different borders for face-to-face meetings and work.
Various airlines based in the U.S, the U.K and Europe have been ramping up their domestic route networks, but perhaps it is time that these airlines refocus on their international route networks too, as Covid-19 vaccination programs worldwide have seen good progress, and also as more countries start to reopen their borders for international travel.
Delta Air Lines has been focusing on both its domestic and international recovery as it looks forward to border restrictions easing across the Atlantic by the second half of 2021. It is steadily building back its international network, having opened up in the European markets of France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
And as more European borders start to reopen, the Atlanta-based carrier will also be returning with daily services to Croatia, Germany, Iceland, Portugal and the Netherlands.
Another important expansion in its international network recovery would include Delta’s long-awaited return to South Africa with its longest non-stop flight service between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg starting August 1 2021.
The return of the Johannesburg route will mark an important milestone for Delta Air Lines, as it completes all of the airline’s services to its pre-Covid markets in Africa.
To make the return of the flight service all the more special, Delta is planning to debut its Airbus A350-900, which is the newest aircraft in its fleet and features the Delta One Suites and Delta Premium Select cabins, as well as bigger overhead bins and entertainment screens.
“Delta has proudly served South Africa for more than 15 years, and we’re thrilled to return to a market so highly sought after by tourists,” said Joe Esposito, Senior Vice President for Network Planning at Delta, further citing that with the steady rebound in international air travel, the airline will continue “bringing back more flights and destinations.”
However, the ongoing network expansion could present Delta with a potential manpower problem, especially if the pace of expansion is quicker than the pace of properly training and scheduling its current workforce.
Staffing problems could result in another series of unwanted flight cancellations which could tarnish not just Delta’s reputation once again, but creates a financial burden as well, a problem that rival American Airlines encountered just last week when it cancelled over 300 flights due to pilot shortages.
Delta, therefore, said in a staff memo on Monday that it is planning to start the recruitment process of hiring more than 1,000 pilots by next summer as an effort to prepare for the rebound of international travel demand, per Straits Times. Delta also wants to add in fresh, young pilots as a good number of its current pilot workforce is approaching the federally-mandated retirement age of 65.
The airline had previously said in April that it would resume hiring new pilots, starting with at least 75 pilots who have conditional job offers in June through August, and is probably going to increase that number by September.
“This is exciting news both for the pilots looking to join Delta and those of you already on the seniority list because it means career progression opportunities as we continue our recovery, account for scheduled pilot retirements and position for network expansion,” John Laughter, Delta’s Chief of Operations, said in the same employee note.
Other major U.S carriers such American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines have also been on a hiring spree for pilots to cater to the slowly-but-consistently-growing demand for air travel.