Delta rolls out special Airbus A321 livery to thank employees at profit-sharing event

Feb 14, 2020

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“Valentine’s Day to us now is not red, it’s green, because it’s profit sharing day.”

That was the message Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian delivered to employees Friday outside the company’s Atlanta headquarters Friday.

About 900 employees from across the airline filled a hangar at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), and cheered as executives praised their hard work and announced that they should see a sizable boost in their bank accounts heading into the weekend.

The airline has distributed shares of its profits to employees since 2010. For the last six years, the annual disbursements have each been a billion dollars or more.

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On Friday, Delta distributed $1.6 billion among its 90,000 employees. For most employees, that represents about two months of pay.

(Photo by Zach Wichter/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Wichter/The Points Guy)

Also in the hangar Friday was an Airbus A321, partly hidden behind white sheets. After the executives’ speeches and a short video presentation, the plane became the star of the show when TechOps employees pressed a button to drop the sheets, revealing giant red letters that spelled out “thank you” on the sides of the aircraft.

Related:5 things I’ll never forget after touring Delta’s TechOps wonderland

(Photo by Zach Wichter/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Wichter/The Points Guy)

Delta’s TechOps took about a week to affix the decals to the A321, and the letters contain the names of every Delta employee. The plane was scheduled to return to service shortly after the event. Delta said the special livery is expected to fly on the aircraft for the next year.

Delta Air Lines custom paints one of its A320s for profit sharing day in Atlanta, Ga. on Wednesday, February 12, 2020. (Photo by John Paul Van Wert for Rank Studios)
Delta Air Lines custom paints one of its A320s for profit sharing day in Atlanta, Ga. on Wednesday, February 12, 2020. (Photo by John Paul Van Wert for Rank Studios, courtesy of Delta Air Lines.)

On the airline’s internal website, employees can get instructions on how to find their names on the plane.

The aircraft also has a thank you message to customers, because “it’s the customers who are paying the profit sharing,” Bastian said.

(Photo by Zach Wichter/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Wichter/The Points Guy)

Profit sharing has become a common practice across the aviation industry as airlines have returned to profitability in the last decade. Most major U.S. carriers now give their employees such bonuses. Delta, however, stands out for routinely topping the pack when it comes to the size of its profit sharing pot. For comparison, Southwest is distributing $667 million, United $491 million and American $213 million in profit sharing this year.

The Association of Flight Attendants, which is conducting a unionization drive at Delta, pegged a demonstration of its own to the airline’s profit sharing disbursement.

The union is distributing candy hearts that say “like it?” and “lock it in” to Delta flight attendants Friday.

“Profit sharing is an industry standard because it is a union negotiated contractual benefit across every major airline, including Delta pilots,” Sara Nelson, the head of the union said in a statement. “The only way to lock in current benefits is to organize for the union.”

It’s unclear, though, if there’s enough appetite to organize at Delta. Previous efforts to unionize attendants there have failed.

Related: The 10 longest (and 10 shortest) Delta Air Lines flights

Featured photo by John Paul Van Wert for Rank Studios, courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

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