Delta pilots protest, saying record number of overtime hours is wearing them out

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Delta Air Lines pilots hit the picket lines in Atlanta Thursday, lining up outside of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

They were protesting their work schedules and said they are being overworked, though they were not calling the protest a “strike.”

Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen was at the airport, where pilots said there are not enough of them to handle the growing number of flights.

They said they’re working a record amount of overtime and it’s wearing them out.

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“Our pilots are tired,” Captain Evan Baach with the Air Line Pilots Association said. “They are frustrated with their schedules.”

Two hundred union pilots arrived in waves with a list of grievances on the signs they carried.

“If I look tired, it’s because I am,” one sign read.

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Frequent traveler Mollie Jean said she knows the feeling.

“I almost missed my flight, it was just so packed,” Jean said. “There just weren’t enough workers there.”

The union said that there are just not enough pilots to cover the growing number of flights as the airline returns to a pre-pandemic schedule.

Janice Huff said it was unnerving to hear about pilots’ long hours when she was about to board.

“I don’t want a tired pilot flying my plane,” Huff said. “That’s concerning.”

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Delta released a statement, saying all of its pilot schedules exceed safety requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as those outlined in the pilots’ contract. The two sides are currently negotiating a new deal.

Baach said pilots are concerned that there are not enough pilots in case of bad weather or an operation issue.

“The company is scheduling more flights than they have pilots to fly them,” Baach said. “We’re concerned there’s not enough buffer there.”

Delta said the pilots who were picketing were off the clock and the demonstration did not disrupt operations.

Union pilots plan to picket again on March 25 at Los Angeles International Airport.