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Delta pilots hit picket lines ahead of busy Fourth of July travel weekend

The carrier warned of "operational challenges" ahead of potential action by the union.

Delta Air Lines pilots picketed at airports across America on Thursday, voicing their concerns over stalled contract talks as travelers gear up for the busy Fourth of July weekend.

Despite the informational pickets, a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association International said there would be no walkout this weekend.

Pilot and local union leader Jason Ambrosi said he expected 400 members on lines at Delta's hub at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, among 1,200 systemwide.

Delta Airlines pilots take part in an informational picket at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Sept. 15, 2016.
Delta Airlines pilots take part in an informational picket at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Sept. 15, 2016.Glen Stubbe / Star Tribune via AP file

Terms of the 2016 agreement have been open for renegotiation since 2019, according to the union, and Ambrosi said pilots are frustrated over “foot-dragging on our contract."

"These pilots stood up and were front-line leaders during the pandemic, flying record amounts of overtime to get our customers safely to their destinations," Ambrosi said outside a Hartsfield–Jackson terminal. "They have earned, earned an industry leading contract."

Informational pickets were scheduled for Atlanta, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), the union said.

Earlier in the week, Delta told travelers they could rebook flights from Friday to Monday "with no fare difference or change fees." Rebooked flight must be between the same origins and destinations and completed before July 8.

While the statement to customers did not mention any looming labor action, the carrier said that "operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend" and that this "unique waiver is being issued to give you greater flexibility to plan around busy travel times, weather forecasts and other variables."

Delta CEO Ed Bastian, in a message to travelers Thursday, also did not mention any potential labor action. He apologized for a recent string of delays and canceled flights that have plagued all air travel.

"The environment we’re navigating today is unlike anything we’ve ever faced, but Delta is no stranger to challenging times, and our commitment to you is as strong as ever," Bastian said. "We won’t stop until we’ve made things right, and we’ll never stop improving for you."