A Feb. 26 Star Tribune story ("Delta's use of temps worries full-timers") incorrectly characterized the airline's Ready Reserve program as one filled with temporary workers.

Like many U.S. companies, Delta Air Lines uses a variety of staffing models -- including full-time, part-time and seasonal -- to manage an efficient and reliable airline operation for our customers and provide career growth and development for our people.

Most of Delta's Ready Reserve employees are neither short-term nor interim. The men and women in these positions are highly qualified safety professionals committed to ensuring that our customers have a safe, reliable experience on every flight.

Having been in existence for 30 years, the Ready Reserve program provides a flexible employment model that is a win-win for employees and the company. In fact, thousands of Delta's customer-service employees started as Ready Reserve, including several current executives.

The program offers many employees the flexibility they are looking for in a job without the commitment to a fixed schedule. Ready Reserves get higher starting pay and limited benefits.

They are eligible for travel benefits, monthly performance bonuses and annual profit sharing. Many employees appreciate the flexibility of the program, particularly those who may have other obligations, such as teachers, college students or parents looking for extra income and flight benefits.

The program allows Delta to effectively deal with changing operational and seasonal demands, helping us to avoid furloughs and outsourcing and keep costs in line. Through Ready Reserve, we are able to competitively staff closer to our schedule, as well as staff around seasonal demands along with day-of-week and time-of-day fluctuations.

We can adjust the schedule for this group during times when the volume decreases, instead of having to immediately resort to the types of furloughs that are common at other airlines.

The notion that Delta's Ready Reserve program has a negative impact on full-time employee jobs and pay is simply untrue. More than 800 Ready Reserve employees moved into open full-time jobs in 2011.

Several hundred more have declined the opportunity to bid for full-time openings because they enjoy the flexibility of being in the Ready Reserve program.

Most important, in each of these scenarios our employees choose which staffing model best fits their lifestyle and career objectives: Delta does not force people into a Ready Reserve job.

Our people and our airline have had much success with the Ready Reserve program during the past 30 years. It is one of many unique ways we effectively manage our business, take care of our customers and provide opportunity for our people.


Bill Lentsch is senior vice president of Minnesota operations for Delta Air Lines.