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Airlines' Profitability Lands Sizeable Bonus Checks In Northwest Workers' Wallets

Tom Banse
NW News Network
File photo. Workers at most of SeaTac Airport's leading domestic carriers are in line for significant profit sharing bonuses.

Delta Air Lines workers in the greater Seattle area received $53.1 million in bonuses Friday. About 3,000 local employees at Delta's newest hub city qualified for the corporate profit sharing program.

In the wake of record airline profits, Delta announced that eligible workers received a bonus equal to more than 21 percent of their 2015 earnings.

Delta's chief rival in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska Air Group, paid performance and profit sharing bonuses in late January. In a statement, Seattle-based Alaska Air said its workers received a bonus equivalent to about nine percent of their base earnings or nearly five weeks' worth of additional pay. Nearly $56 million, or slightly over half of the total payout, accrued to workers in the Puget Sound region.

Delta Air Lines spokeswoman Liz Savadelis wrote in an email that her airline would hold celebrations throughout its network Friday, including in Seattle, to honor its workers. She portrayed the profit sharing as large enough to drive an "economic benefit" to the Puget Sound region.

On Thursday, Southwest Airlines announced it too would distribute its largest ever profit sharing payout based on stellar 2015 financial results. The airline said the bonuses equal to eight weeks of pay will be paid out in April. Southwest funnels its profit sharing payouts into employee retirement plans.

A sharp drop in fuel prices combined with a steady recovery in travel demand and conservative capacity growth to help all of the major U.S. airlines record blockbuster profits last year.