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Off-duty pilots are picketing airports nationwide ahead of busy Labor Day travel weekend

Pilots representing 6 airlines are planning to participate in the "informational" action to demand better working conditions and benefits.
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Off-duty pilots representing six U.S. airlines are planning an "informational" picket line Thursday at airports nationwide, ahead of the busy Labor Day weekend, to demand better working conditions and benefits.

They will be picketing outside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Detroit Metro Airport and Reagan-National Airport in Washington, D.C., from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.

Later in the day, picket lines will form outside major airports in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Florida, Salt Lake City and Seattle.

Travel is not expected to be disrupted as the pilots will be off duty.

The pilots say improving their work conditions is key to ameliorating the travel woes that passengers have experienced this year.

New federal data show that in the first half of the year, on-time arrival rates dropped for nearly every major airline, while customer complaints soared.

Alongside staffing issues, surging post-pandemic travel demand and weather-related issues have brought unprecedented challenges to air travel this year. The disruptions have prompted Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to demand better performance from carriers.

In response, airlines have cut back on flights and eliminated some routes entirely.

This will be the third informational picket line this year as pilots seek to negotiate new contracts. The labor action is being led by Delta Air Lines pilots, who are seeking a new contract that has been under negotiation since 2019.

"When ALPA pilots stand shoulder to shoulder in support of shared goals, people notice—our airlines notice," the Air Line Pilots Association said in a release. "That’s why on September 1, we’re asking all ALPA pilots to join us for an ALPA-wide informational picket to show the public, our lawmakers, and our airlines that all airline pilots stand together in support of the profession-wide goal of improved working conditions and benefits."

Delta issued a statement saying, "These exercises by some of our off-duty pilots do not disrupt our operation for our customers. ALPA's stated purpose of picketing is simply to gain leverage at the negotiating table."