Delta Trims Workforce By 5 Percent Through Early Retirement Incentives

Delta Air Lines, one of Atlanta's largest employers, trimmed staffing levels nearly 5 percent last year after offering early retirement packages to reduce its workforce.

The decline in full-time employee counts at Delta was deeper than for the industry as a whole, which had 2.6 percent fewer workers in December 2012 compared with a year earlier.

Delta's count of full-time equivalent employees fell by 4.5 percent, to about 72,500 in December 2012 from 76,000 in December 2011. Last spring, about 2,000 workers at the company took early retirement offers as the airline cut flights. The early retirement offers included a one-time medical account offer to cover health care in retirement.

Other reductions came through attrition, according to Delta, which has nearly 30,000 employees in Georgia.

After the early retirement offers, Delta president Ed Bastian said the head count reduction would save company more than $60,000 per person.

Delta posted a $1 billion profit last year. Delta cut flying by about 1.8 percent in 2012 and planned to cut flying by 2 to 4 percent this quarter.

In Atlanta, flight cuts by Southwest Airlines and its subsidiary AirTran Airways present opportunity for Delta. Delta is "investing in Atlanta" and increasing its flying by 4.4 percent here in response to Southwest downsizing in the third quarter of this year, Buckingham Research Group airline analyst Daniel McKenzie said in a report Wednesday. Delta is also taking delivery of larger aircraft later this year.

Copyright 2013 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution