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Delta Pilot Leader Cites Pay Gains

Delta pilot leader Lee Moak said pilot pay rates will be higher than five years ago, when the carrier sought bankruptcy protection.
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ATLANTA (

TheStreet

) -- Declaring that "anger is not a strategy," the chairman of the pilot's union at

Delta

(DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report

laid out his vision of airline/pilot relations in a letter to union members Thursday.

Lee Moak, chairman of the Delta chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, noted that on Jan. 1, the carrier's pilots will get a 4% raise. The raise marks a milestone, he said, because it will mean that, for the first time, "pay rates will be above those that were in place when Delta filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005," five years ago this month.

In addition, Moak noted, contract improvements that take effect Jan. 1 also mean that Delta's contribution level to the pilots' retirement plan will increase to 13%.

The main point of Moak's letter is that for pilots to win, airlines must win too. In a dramatic change that has taken place during 2010, that philosophy has come to dominate pilot thought in the airline industry, particularly as contentious, conflict-driven union leadership teams have been

replaced at

United

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(UAUA)

and more recently, at

American

(AMR)

, where

Dave Bates took over in July as president of the Allied Pilots Association.

In his letter, Moak summarizes his approach, quoting Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese warrior and author of

The Art of War

, as saying: "It is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached warrior who wins, not the hothead seeking vengeance and not the ambitious seeker of fortune."

"Even with continued economic uncertainty, Delta may finally be tracking in the right direction," Moak wrote. "Our airline posted a record profit last quarter, and analysts are predicting a solid third-quarter performance as well. Block hours are increasing, we are hiring pilots and barring some major Black Swan event, profit sharing is on the horizon for the first time since 2007."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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Ted Reed