Delta Air Lines said Wednesday that it expects to take a charge of $2.7 billion to $3.3 billion to cover the cost of early retirements and buyouts for employees as it shrinks in response to a sharp decline in air travel.
The airline said this week that 17,000 employees have agreed to depart.
Delta said in a regulatory filing that $500 million to $600 million of the charge would go toward cash payments to pilots, flight attendants, ground workers and other departing employees in the July-September quarter. Employees who agree to leave get payments, health insurance and, in some cases, retiree health care benefits.
Airlines are pushing employees to take buyouts and short-term leaves as a way of reducing potential furloughs this fall, when $25 billion in federal payroll support runs out. Delta got $5.4 billion in cash and loans to help cover labor costs. As a condition of the money, airlines are prohibited from laying off workers through Sept. 30.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Tuesday that the airline hopes to carry out the “vast majority of the head count changes we need” through voluntary departures, “minimizing, if not eliminating, the need for involuntary furloughs.”