This Is Why Delta’s Lawyers Say Flights Are Still a Health Risk

It might be more about the health of the airline itself

Delta lost almost $2 billion in March and parked half of its fleet in order to save money.
Jamie Squire / Getty Images
By Kirk Miller / April 30, 2020 12:22 pm

Delta’s lawyers think it’s currently unsafe to fly. But they may not be thinking about your health. Instead, this might be regarding the health of the airline itself.

At least, that’s the conclusion reached by the travel site View From the Wing. Delta’s legal team recently made a filing with the Department of Transportation suggesting that most if not all flights right now are a danger due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, but the company has emphasized the opposite to the public and its employees.

It all comes back to the government’s bailout package, known as the CARES Act. As of April 25, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has made $12.4 billion in initial payments to 93 air carriers and “will continue to make additional payments on a rolling basis.”

But a provision of the legislation is that airlines taking money can’t lay off workers or reduce pay rates through the end of September. So Delta’s arguing that flights are a danger to airport workers, so they should be allowed to operate fewer flights … while still getting money.

“During this pandemic, airport employees and crews must place themselves at risk to staff each flight and Delta seeks to reduce this risk as much as possible,” the legal team for Delta noted when filing for an exemption. “One way Delta seeks to minimize health risks to its workforce is by limiting the number of airport stations that remain open for business during the COVID-19 health emergency to reduce the total number of airport staff who must report to frontline work.”

To be fair, Delta is only suggesting that they be allowed flight flexibility with nine domestic airports, and that those areas are already served by the airline at other airports 60 minutes away or less.

View From the Wing does offer some backup to the airline’s claim, noting that the government is asking several airlines to operate flights when there are almost no passengers and certainly not economical. However, as the site notes, “[that] was clearly the deal when Delta accepted billions in taxpayer subsidies.

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