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Delta wants at least 3,000 flight attendants to take unpaid leave

Delta Airlines planes are loaded and unloaded at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City

(Reuters) – Delta Air Lines Inc <DAL.N> will need at least 3,000 of its roughly 20,000 flight attendants to take unpaid leave of four to 12 months, or consider other options, to avoid involuntary furloughs, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

Airlines are suffering their worst crisis in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated air travel demand and crushed the U.S. economy in the second quarter.

The fallout has put tens of thousands of airline jobs at risk as carriers warn an industry recovery could take years.

Atlanta-based Delta last month reported a 91% plunge in second-quarter revenue and a $3.9 billion adjusted pre-tax loss.

Delta would need at least 3,000 of its roughly 20,000 flight attendants to take unpaid leave of up to 12 months, among other options outlined in a memo reported earlier by CNBC.

A person with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed the contents of the memo to Reuters. A representative for Delta did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Delta told pilots last month it would avoid furloughs if they agreed to reduced guaranteed minimum pay.

More than 17,000 workers at Delta, which had more than 91,000 employees in 2019, are taking voluntary departure packages, including more than 1,700 of 7,900 pilots, Reuters reported last month.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Maju Samuel and Tom Brown)

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