• Hundreds of off-duty pilots picketed Delta Airlines at hubs across the US on Thursday.
  • Even with pilots flying record amounts of overtime this year, cancellations remain high.
  • "The perfect storm is occurring," union chair Jason Ambrosi said ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend.

Hundreds of off-duty Delta pilots picketed the airline at hubs across the country, with more than 400 demonstrating in shifts outside the carrier's home base in Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

The picketing occurred as air travel has rebounded so strongly that Delta pilots are on track to fly more overtime this year than they did in their two previous busiest years combined.

If trends continue, the overtime hours in 2022 will exceed those of 2018 and 2019 as early as this fall.

Even with the extra shifts, the airline has still had to cancel thousands of flights since Memorial Day weekend.

"We're now going into the Independence Day Holiday weekend and are concerned that our customers' plans have already been disrupted once again," Delta pilots union chair, Capt. Jason Ambrosi, said in a statement. "The perfect storm is occurring."

Rough as these disruptions are for passengers, the union says they're taking a serious toll on pilots' quality of life.

The union is currently trying to negotiate new terms with Delta to amend the current contract that was last negotiated back in 2016 — a discussion that has been delayed more than two years past schedule.

Delta pilots' last contracted pay raise was over three years ago, and air travel has only gotten busier in that time.

Delta told Insider that the pilots' "informational exercise" would not affect its schedule, and said it was aimed at both providing an "industry-leading overall contract" and keeping a strong balance sheet.

Although Thursday's action was not a strike, many pilots carried signs indicating their readiness to stop work if progress wasn't made. US airline pilots' ability to strike is bound by a century-old railroad law that puts several additional steps to avert work stoppages.

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