Delta Air Lines gave $1.1 billion of last year’s profit to its employees worldwide Tuesday, with a sizable chunk going to its Twin Cities-based workers.
The Valentine’s Day payout amounted to about $87.5 million for its more than 7,500 employees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The average among MSP workers was about $11,500, but the actual sum given to each worker varies widely depending on base pay.
This yearly ritual fluctuates depending on how well the airline performed financially. The Atlanta-based carrier had a profit of more than $4.3 billion in 2016, down about 3 percent from the year before. Last year, Delta had a record-setting year with a $4.5 billion profit that translated into a $1.5 billion profit-sharing pool for its more than 80,000 employees worldwide.
While technically a bonus, Delta’s profit-sharing plan has historically been an important part of the workers’ overall pay. This year’s drop in profit-sharing is due to a change in Delta’s formula for all nonpilot workers at the end of 2015. Flight attendants, ground crew and other merit workers saw a 14.5 percent increase in their base pay last year and are scheduled to receive another 6 percent bump in April. The trade-off, however, is a change to those workers’ profit-sharing formula that reduces payouts on highly profitable years.
Under the new calculation, the only way for these employees to see greater profit-sharing is if the airline’s overall profit surpasses the previous year’s, according to the company’s most recent financial disclosure filing.
The pilots, which are the only unionized work group at Delta, negotiated an 18 percent pay raise, retroactive to the start of 2016 and maintained their profit-sharing formula.
Minneapolis-St. Paul is Delta’s second-largest hub, by traffic, Chief Executive Ed Bastian told the Star Tribune last summer. But it is not the second-largest hub by employee count or average pay. Its 33,000 employees in Atlanta are sharing $392 million in profit, 11,600 workers in New York will split $119 million and $101 million will be divvied up by Delta’s 6,900 employees in Detroit.