Delta Air Lines is doling out $1.3 billion in annual profit-sharing, including $100 million to its Minnesota employees.
This marks the second-largest payout in company history, to be spread between the airline’s global workforce of 80,000. In 2016, the company paid out a record $1.5 billion in profits to employees for the airline’s performance in 2015.
Announcing the profit-share total on Valentine’s Day is an annual tradition at the Atlanta-based airline. This is the fifth consecutive year Delta’s profit-sharing exceeded $1 billion.
The U.S. airline industry is experiencing a prolonged period of growth, and Delta for several years has posted the highest net profit among its peers.
This year, each Delta employee gets a bonus equal to 14 percent of his or her annual pay. The payout is formulated from Delta’s 2018 pretax income of $5.2 billion.
In recent years, Delta tinkered with its profit-sharing model before landing on an arrangement that gives nonunion workers the same payout structure as its unionized pilots.
Research shows employees are more motivated and loyal when working for companies that offer both profit-sharing and a positive work culture, said Joseph Blasi, professor and director of Rutgers’ Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing.
“With real wages being flat since the 1980s for most economic groups, profit-sharing tends to be one of the few ways for the working middle class to actually get a share of what they produce,” Blasi said.
Delta has been the dominant carrier at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport since it merged with Northwest Airlines 10 years ago. The number of local employees has dwindled slightly over the years, but the airline has maintained a large flight operation and crew base in the Twin Cities. As of December, Delta employed 7,500 mainline workers here.
The company also announced Thursday a new benefit for employees interested in volunteerism. Delta will give all its workers a paid day off from work to volunteer at a nonprofit organization of their choice. If every Minnesota employee participates, Delta estimates they would contribute 57,000 hours of service.