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Delta pilots picket ahead of the busy Fourth of July travel weekend

The carrier warned of “operational challenges” ahead of potential action by the union.

Delta Air Lines pilots picketed at airports across America on Thursday, voicing their concerns over stalled contract talks as travelers gear up for the busy Fourth of July weekend.

Despite those informational pickets, a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA) told NBC News there would be no walkout by its members this weekend.

Pilot and local union leader Jason Ambrosi said he expected 400 members on out lines at Delta’s hub at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, among 1,200 systemwide.

Terms of the 2016 agreement have been open for re-negotiation since 2019, according to the union, and Ambrosi said pilots are frustrated over “foot-dragging on our contract.”

“These pilots stood up and were front line leaders during the pandemic, flying record amounts of overtime to get our customers safely to their destinations,” Ambrosi said outside a Hartsfield–Jackson terminal. “They have earned, earned an industry-leading contract.”

Informational pickets were scheduled for Atlanta, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), the union said.

Earlier in the week, Delta told travelers they could rebook flights between Friday and Monday “with no fare difference or change fees.” Rebooked flight must be between the same origin and destinations and completed or before July 8.

While the statement to customers did not mention any looming labor action, the carrier said “operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend” and that this “unique waiver is being issued to give you greater flexibility to plan around busy travel times, weather forecasts and other variables.”

Delta CEO Ed Bastian, in a message to travelers on Thursday, also failed to mention any potential labor action. He apologized for a recent string of delays and cancelled flights plaguing all of air travel.

“The environment we’re navigating today is unlike anything we’ve ever faced, but Delta is no stranger to challenging times, and our commitment to you is as strong as ever,” according to Bastian. “We won’t stop until we’ve made things right, and we’ll never stop improving for you.”

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