One Pilots Opinion Of The Delta BK

Spooky 1

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I have taken this opportunity to share one pilots opinion of the Delta debacle that faces this group. Take or leave it for what it's worth but I suspect that it is just about spot on.

The Loss of Loyalty

Under Mr. Dave Garrett, Delta was maintaining its' fine tradition of
loyalty to employees, suppliers, cities served and, of course, customers. When
Mr. Allen took over (with Mr. Grinstein on the Board of Directors) Delta was in
fine shape financially and with good morale from top to bottom. Through bad
management (the details are far too long to include in this letter) Delta began
to lose money. Allen (Grinstein) decided (via his 7.5 program) to turn his back
on years of "The Family Tradition" and initiate pay cuts, part-time employee
programs, moving company functions to sub-contractors etc.. I believe that the
response from Mr. Garrett (given the same circumstances-circumstances that
would, in my opinion, not have surfaced under his tenure) would have been much
different and ultimately very successful. He would simply have followed "The
Family Tradition". An estimate of the daily losses would have been compared to
the daily payroll and pay-outs and the payroll reduced to bring the balance
sheet back into the black. Whatever this percent of payroll was, a BIGGER cut
would occur in the red brick buildings. Dave being a LEADER (by example) not a
MANAGER driven by ego and/or greed. Dave was interested in NOT making the
unions wear the black hats and thus would first approach the only unions at
Delta; ALPA and the dispatchers (get the target-but lesser- percentage
concession from the unions) and simply bring this concession to the entire
company. The most important result of this action would be that EVERYONE would
still receive their orange envelopes, EVERYONE would still maintain their
performance to our customers, Deltas' ranking in on time performance, customer
satisfaction, baggage handling, etc., would stay in place at the top of the
industry. As the rest of the industry behaved differently, Delta would survive,
thrive and ultimately reward ALL employees with a financial gain through stock
or profit sharing.
But Allen (Grinstein) crossed a Rubicon with that abysmal decision (The
7.5) as Delta management was no longer listening to C.E. Woolman who said "All
airlines are the same, only people make them different". But the loss of
loyalty went FAR BEYOND just the employees. It was extended to our suppliers,
the cities we served, and ultimately to our CUSTOMERS. Marriotts no longer
"went the extra mile" to accommodate Delta's shifting crew demands; domestic
cities (Jackson, WY, Burlington , Vermont, and many others) felt betrayed;
international cities felt betrayed, Portland stopped serving its' "Sister City"
in Japan shortly after initiating the service with much fanfare from the mayors
of the two towns, I personally witnessed the tears of the Prague employees the
day they were told that Delta was stopping service and there were no plans in
place to move them within the company or, at least, attempt to find them
employment with some other outfit. I was ashamed of Delta that day, it was just
before Christmas and the Czech Republic has no unemployment benefits or welfare.
Delta simply ABANDONED them. I knew, precisely at that time, with that
decision, that the Delta Family was dead. Our customers didn't like the loss of
loyalty either and they began to vote with their wallets.
The gross MISMANAGEMENT of Delta did not stop there. The Pan Am assets
of South America were never used and the European assets mismanaged with the
ABANDONMENT of a high percentage of this operation. Delta foolishly attempted
to serve South America out of Atlanta. It CLOSED the FLL/MIA (pilot) base AFTER
Eastern folded and allowed American to serve Latin America out of MIA. During
the base closing party (held on a huge yatch) I said something like "Delta is
going to have to hire the Queen Mary when they close Atlanta", it was a joke but
it was filled with prophesy. The base manager of Zurich complained to me that
after his efforts to secure a lucrative MD-11 freight contract from Zurich to
Atlanta, it was canceled as Delta moved the 767 onto the pairing. Bitterness
and cancellation penalties in its' wake. I could go on and on.
It's heartbreaking to KNOW the "Spirit of Delta" is still alive and well
amongst us, the employees. Witness the Retired L-1011 Captains' story of the
Delta Employees and his new company (a pharmacy) helping New Orleans after the
hurricane, witness the employees giving to the Credit Union to alleviate Deltas'
fuel costs. But the "Spirit of Delta" alive and well will do NO GOOD if it is
not alive and well at the top. It is not and has not been in the corporate
headquarters ever since Dave Garrett departed. I still find in incredulous that
ANYONE working for Delta has any confidence in the present administration. The
one thing that should come out of this bankruptcy is a complete change of top
personnel. That Grinstein allowed Allen and Mullin to cede loyalty to history,
abandon employees, badly manage assets, strategy and then; REWARD these
people with obscene amounts of money is beyond belief. The fact that he
displays himself as the only hope left is laughable if it was not so pathetic.
However, I do understand the employees who support him, it's natural to trust
your leader and it's a hard thing to give up. It's like discovering that your
Parents privately thought your birth was a mistake, you just do not want to
believe it and in fact may not believe it even when presented with solid proof
that it is true. I'm sick and tired of hearing (from Grinstein) that Delta is folding

its' tent due to the high price of fuel, it started a long time ago!

The The employees should take an active part in finding new LEADERS NOT
MANAGERS. Start by talking to Dave Garrett or Herb Kelleher and go from there.
Just get rid of the present administration, believe me, you've earned the right!
I just wish that ALPA had been smart enough to force the issue during the last
round of negotiations, c'est la vie.
I hope the company can survive. It won't survive for me. I believe that
any success will leave present retirees with what they now have left. It's the
price we pay for not having due diligence in allowing the loyalty to disappear
from the top.
I know now how the Prague employees felt those years ago when loyalty
stopped and abandonment reigned just prior to the cold Christmas days in the
Czech Republic
Sincerely,

MD-11 Captain Retiree


747 Line Check Airman Air Atlanta Icelandic



 

proftomda

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Just a couple thoughts regarding spooky's view of DAL and the mess it is in. As a recently departed 18 year employee, I agree with his assesment regarding mangements blundering strategic decisions made in the last 10+ years. I will add however that the "family" fell apart not only in part because of blundering management but also because the pilot groups unwillingness to share in sacrifice during tough times, which resulted in fragmenting the family and creating anomosity amongst the employee group. Untill 12 years ago, DL had a history of no layoffs. Even during critical times as the fuel crisis of the early 1970's, DL kept everyone employed, using pilots to load aircraft etc, sharing in the sacrifice, keeping the "family" atmosphere alive. Sounds a little hokey in todays climate but it worked. That all changed in the early 1990's. A combination of causes resulted in all airlines losing billions during that time. Because of the losses, DAL instituted a 5% pay cut for all employees except the dispatchers and pilots, the only unionized groups at the company, and then asked those groups for the same. The dispatchers quickly agreed in the shared sacrifice but the the pilot group refused. When individual pilots volintarily set up 5% payroll deductions to contribute, alpa objected and those pilots were forced to cancel their deductions. I remember that day very well as I was instructing a MD-11 class, a knock on the door and someone wanted to speak with one of my students immediately. When he returned he was visibly upset explaining that he told he could no longer participate with the other employee groups in the sacrifice. No sacrifice from the pilots and the continued cash drain that resulted finally created the 1st layoffs in company history, across all employee groups. "Delta Family", well you could say it was disfunctional after that. As an airline pilot who has worked in just about every underwing position you can think of for three airlines and finally made it to the flightdeck, I understand other employee groups sometimes anomosity towards us as they think we dont work for our $ and consider ourselves better than the rest. The damage inflicted because of the pilots rejection of what amounted to a token pay cut damaged company moral permanately. I'm sure the argument will be made that the company got back with contract '96, but from a pure solidarity standpoint, the damage was done.

Fast forward to post 9/11 and mass losses by the airlines. We all know the story, DAL employees need to sacrifice again. Once again refusal and feet dragging. The pilots ultimately agreed but hopelessly years too late to help. A sizable paycut certainly, but still the highest paid of the legacy carriers irrespective of company financial condition. Other employee groups took a smaller cut but their pay is nowhere near the highest of the legacy carriers, and has never been. Did management make some incredibally dumb decisions over over the last 15 years? Absolutely. Had Delta become a giant titanic very difficult to steer away from trouble? Sure. Was it entirely managements fault? Not entirely.

I'm afraid that that when the history of DAL's spiral into bankrupcy is written, more blame will be placed at the pilot groups feet than for any other airline in memory.
 

General Lee

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proftomda said:
Just a couple thoughts regarding spooky's view of DAL and the mess it is in. As a recently departed 18 year employee, I agree with his assesment regarding mangements blundering strategic decisions made in the last 10+ years. I will add however that the "family" fell apart not only in part because of blundering management but also because the pilot groups unwillingness to share in sacrifice during tough times, which resulted in fragmenting the family and creating anomosity amongst the employee group. Untill 12 years ago, DL had a history of no layoffs. Even during critical times as the fuel crisis of the early 1970's, DL kept everyone employed, using pilots to load aircraft etc, sharing in the sacrifice, keeping the "family" atmosphere alive. Sounds a little hokey in todays climate but it worked. That all changed in the early 1990's. A combination of causes resulted in all airlines losing billions during that time. Because of the losses, DAL instituted a 5% pay cut for all employees except the dispatchers and pilots, the only unionized groups at the company, and then asked those groups for the same. The dispatchers quickly agreed in the shared sacrifice but the the pilot group refused. When individual pilots volintarily set up 5% payroll deductions to contribute, alpa objected and those pilots were forced to cancel their deductions. I remember that day very well as I was instructing a MD-11 class, a knock on the door and someone wanted to speak with one of my students immediately. When he returned he was visibly upset explaining that he told he could no longer participate with the other employee groups in the sacrifice. No sacrifice from the pilots and the continued cash drain that resulted finally created the 1st layoffs in company history, across all employee groups. "Delta Family", well you could say it was disfunctional after that. As an airline pilot who has worked in just about every underwing position you can think of for three airlines and finally made it to the flightdeck, I understand other employee groups sometimes anomosity towards us as they think we dont work for our $ and consider ourselves better than the rest. The damage inflicted because of the pilots rejection of what amounted to a token pay cut damaged company moral permanately. I'm sure the argument will be made that the company got back with contract '96, but from a pure solidarity standpoint, the damage was done.

Fast forward to post 9/11 and mass losses by the airlines. We all know the story, DAL employees need to sacrifice again. Once again refusal and feet dragging. The pilots ultimately agreed but hopelessly years too late to help. A sizable paycut certainly, but still the highest paid of the legacy carriers irrespective of company financial condition. Other employee groups took a smaller cut but their pay is nowhere near the highest of the legacy carriers, and has never been. Did management make some incredibally dumb decisions over over the last 15 years? Absolutely. Had Delta become a giant titanic very difficult to steer away from trouble? Sure. Was it entirely managements fault? Not entirely.

I'm afraid that that when the history of DAL's spiral into bankrupcy is written, more blame will be placed at the pilot groups feet than for any other airline in memory.

Yeah, it was all our fault.....Gimee a break there chief. I remember personally asking for more and more businessman friendly RJs. I remember asking to cut the fuel hedges. I remember asking to buy up another $2 billion in stock, instead of paying down debt, just before 9-11 and before it all evaporated in the months after 9-11. I remember saying to the pilot groups "A contract is a contract", and then leaving with $16 million after 9-11 (L.M.). Yeah, I remember all of those. Blaming it all on us, with the SERP slap in the face also in there, is wrong.


Bye Bye--General Lee
 
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proftomda

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Didnt say it was all your fault, did I? Dont be offended, it was just my opinion, you have plenty of them to go around.
 

Birdstrike

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proftomda said:
...Was it entirely managements fault? Not entirely...I'm afraid that that when the history of DAL's spiral into bankrupcy is written, more blame will be placed at the pilot groups feet than for any other airline in memory.
General Lee said:
Yeah, it was all our fault.....Gimee a break there chief...Blaming it all on us, with the SERP slap in the face also in there, is wrong.
I didn't read anywhere in there that he was blaming it all on the pilots.
 

Spooky 1

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I think the General is a overly sensitive to any suggestion that the pilots could have done more earlier, or anything earlier to mitigate this debacle that Delta finds itself in. The fact is there is a better than average chance that Delta will slip into Chapt. 7 without significant and drastic changes to its business plan. Not sure if the expanded international operations is the answer as a couple of well placed terrorist attacks could depress traffic to the point that even the healthiest airlines would have a hard time coping.


I never thought I would be making more money in retirement than a Delta 777 Captain. All I can say is watch out as anything is possible in this new world.

Good luck to those who have to stay and ride this one out as it's not going to be pretty.
 

General Lee

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No, I think we could have done some things differently. But can you really say it was our fault for losing $10 billion in 4 years? That is crazy. Leo thought USAir would go away---it didn't. Grinstein took 8 months to figure out what was going on, when he was on the board. Sure, we could have given some cash sooner, but it is hard to give it up when people are hiding cash offshore. They had other resources to get money if they NEEDED it---from the other non-union people. Is that fair? No, but when you don't protect yourself, it can come back and bite you. Sorry I was a lot defensive.


Bye Bye--General Lee
 

proftomda

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I certainly agree with Spooky regarding possible chapter 7 status. Even though I am no longer employed there, I still regard DAL as "my" company and desperately hope the ship can be saved. Massive changes will need to take place, massive changes to employee compensation, work rules, head count. Its not the time to think of what is in your personal best interest in the year or two but 10-15 years down the road. Sadly, the personal option window to help the company has closed.


Regarding the Generals opinion that DAL should of gone to non-union employee groups to get additional concessions (85% of workforce), you cant be serious? Taking more money from the non represented workforce without the pilots chipping in would of been chaos and the company knew it. Examining accross the board industry pay rates, DAL non pilot personell were paid anywhere from 65-85% of the tops in the industry prior to the last pay cut. In regards to contract 2000 in comparison to industry average, need I say more?

proftomda
P.S. Good job Jetblue
 

Buckaroo

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Boy, that's all the world needs.........another armchair quarterback pilot regurgitating his version of history.


What a joke.
 
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