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Delta Air Lines closing Cincinnati pilot crew base due to COVID-19

About 150 pilots impacted
Delta lifts groundstop after grounding domestic flights
Posted at 2:08 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 16:13:14-04

HEBRON, Ky. — Delta Air Lines Inc. is closing its crew base of local pilots, impacting about 150 people in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

The move represents yet another downsizing for the Atlanta-based airline that once operated one of its largest hubs out of CVG Airport in Hebron. It also comes just a few months after PSA Airlines, a regional carrier owned by American Airlines, closed its 400-employee crew base of pilots and flight attendants at CVG.

“Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta will close its Cincinnati 737 pilot crew base,” said Drake Castenada in an email response to WCPO questions. “While CVG flights were previously reduced due to a drop in customer demand, our Cincinnati customers will not see any additional schedule reductions due to the base closures. Pilots previously based in CVG will be transitioned to other Delta crew domiciles over the next several months.”

Because the closure is linked to coronavirus and Delta is promising no further schedule reductions, airport officials are not alarmed by the action, said Seth Cutter, director of communications and government affairs at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

"Several airlines continue maintaining crew bases at CVG," Cutter added.

The change doesn’t necessarily mean pilots will have to move to another city. Airlines often allow pilots to commute from one city to another as part of their daily schedules.

PSA Airlines, which announced the relocation of its CVG crew base in October, said most of its 200 pilots and 200 flight attendants adopted Dayton as their home base by the end of March. That's where the airline is based. PSA said the realignment had no impact on its flight schedule at CVG.

All airlines have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the numbers have been staggering for Delta. In an April 22 press release, the airline said it grounded 650 aircraft in the current quarter that ends in June, reducing its total system capacity by 85%. The company implemented a hiring freeze and offered voluntary leave options with 37,000 employees taking short-term unpaid leave.