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Delta pilots picket at Sea-Tac Airport over schedules causing 'fatiguing trips'

Date: April 17, 2022

By KING 5 Seattle

Delta Air Lines pilots plan to picket at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Tuesday to demand improvements to scheduling, according to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPHA), amid a rise in pilot fatigue.

ALPA said pilots will protest Delta management's scheduling practices that have caused its pilots to fly "long and fatiguing trips."

The picket at Sea-Tac will be the fifth Delta hub where pilots have demanded the improvements, according to ALPA.

About 200 Delta pilots staged a protest at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in March over scheduling and fatigue issues, according to our affiliate WXIA-TV.

In a statement to KING 5, a Delta Air Lines Spokesperson said the picket will involve off-duty pilots and "will not disrupt our operation." 

The spokesperson said the pilot schedules are "in line" with requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

The statement ended with "we are grateful for and proud of their efforts."

Delta pilots are also scheduled to picket at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport on Thursday.

The news of the upcoming picket comes two weeks after hundreds of Alaska Airlines pilots picketed in Seattle, Anchorage, Los Angeles, Portland and San Francisco.

Pilots have been in contract negotiations with Alaska Airlines for nearly three years and the two sides are at an impasse. Will McQuillen, a pilot and union chairman for Alaska Airlines' pilots, said negotiations to reach a solution have been ongoing since 2019.

McQuillen said the goal of the picket, which was not a strike, was to bring awareness to pilots' struggles. Among the top priorities are better pay, more flexible schedules and more job protections.

Pilot shortages nationwide are causing a sharp increase in pilot fatigue. Southwest Airlines Pilots Association called pilot fatigue its "number-one safety concern."

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said the number of pilots asking to be relieved from a flight assignment because of fatigue jumped 330% in March compared with the same month in pre-pandemic years.

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