BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (FOX 9) - "If I look tired, that’s because I am."
That was the message Delta Air Lines pilots were sharing at a silent demonstration on Thursday morning when 100 pilots took part in a march outside Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport – one stop on a nationwide circuit of protests.
The group has been picketing at airports across the country, speaking out against what they call fatiguing schedules, working on their days off, and putting in a record amount of overtime.
"They have the planes, but not enough pilots, so they're over scheduling the airline relying on these pilots to pick up that overtime," Delta Air Lines pilot captain Jason Ambrosi told FOX 9. "If our pilots didn't pick up this overtime, there would probably be cancellations."
Delta Air Lines pilot captain Jason Ambrosi (FOX 9)
If something doesn’t change soon when it comes to scheduling, Ambrosi warns passengers their summer vacations could be impacted. Over scheduling has caused the time between flights to get smaller and smaller, meaning customers could see delays and cancellations.
"As the summer comes and there's thunderstorms that roll through in parts of the world, it certainly could be an issue where there's not enough buffer or wiggle room in the system," Ambrosi said.
The problem is being blamed on a shortage of pilots caused by an older pilot population and a number of early retirements offered during the pandemic.
When FOX 9 reached out to Delta, a spokesperson sent the following statement:
"This informational exercise by some of our off-duty pilots will not disrupt our operation for our customers. We continuously evaluate our staffing models and plan ahead so that we can recover quickly when unforeseen circumstances arise, and the resilience of the Delta people is unmatched in that regard. Pilot schedules remain in line with all requirements set by the FAA as well as those outlined in our pilot contract. All of our people, including our pilots, are working hard to restore our airline and deliver for our customers as we emerge from the pandemic. We are grateful for and proud of their efforts."