Airlines face strikes ahead of holidays as industry struggles to recover from lockdowns

Airlines faced strict regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely hurt their finances.

Updated: November 3, 2022 - 8:54pm

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With the holiday season fast approaching, several American airlines are facing possible strikes as they continue to negotiate with pilots while still grappling with the financial hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pilots with Delta Airlines authorized a strike this week while United Airlines rejected a contract agreement on Wednesday, according to KARE 11. American Airlines remains in negotiations.

Before any strikes occur, however, they must first receive approval from the National Mediation Board which may first demand renewed negotiations should it believe a resolution possible. Should either side decline arbitration, they must wait 30 days before either locking out employees or going on strike.

Airlines faced strict regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely hurt their finances. American Airlines, for example, did not post a profit under the first quarter of 2022, nearly two years after the start of the pandemic.

The United Airlines dispute, at least, appears poised for more amicable resolution, with both parties eager to negotiate a new deal to avoid a strike.

"By the Company's own admission, this agreement missed the mark," said United Master Executive Council chair Capt. Mike Hamilton, per KARE 11. "That's why both parties agreed to reengage at the bargaining table for a new, improved agreement. It is vital United management recognizes that an industry-leading contract is required to hire, train, and retain the best pilots in the world for the United Next growth plan to succeed."

The Delta pilots, meanwhile, took a more confrontational tone, with Delta Master Executive Council chair Capt. Jason Ambrosi saying "Delta has rebounded from the pandemic and is poised to be stronger than ever, posting record revenues for the third quarter."

"Meanwhile, our negotiations have dragged on for too long. Our goal is to reach an agreement, not to strike," he continued. "The ball is in management's court. It's time for the Company to get serious at the bargaining table and invest in the Delta pilots."