Delta Air Lines employees are going to be feeling the love on Valentine’s Day this year.
The airline’s CEO announced Monday that Delta will pay out a record $1.6 billion in profit sharing to its employees next month.
The bonus payment to the Atlanta-based company’s 90,000 employees on Feb. 14 will be equivalent to about two months’ salary, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said at a Cobb Chamber event Monday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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This is the sixth straight year that Delta has paid out profit-sharing bonuses of more than $1 billion, and this year’s total surpasses the record of $1.5 billion in 2016 that Delta paid out.
While other companies also engage in profit sharing with employees, Delta said it pays out way more than the average company. The $1.5 billion in 2016 was the largest profit-sharing payout in corporate history, according to Delta.
“For years, I would get beaten up by Wall Street. They thought the profits were theirs, and ‘Why are you giving the profits away to the employees?’” Bastian said at Monday’s event. “Wall Street has actually come full circle, and they realize that Delta is the most awarded airline in the world because of its employees.”
Delta paid out $1.3 billion last year and $1.1 billion in each of the two previous years.
Bastian, who has been Delta’s CEO since 2016, also added that it expects to hire 6,000 to 7,000 people this year and a total of about 25,000 over the next three or four years.
Bill Maynard, chief technology officer at VFS Global, called Bastian a “rockstar” on LinkedIn for the profit-sharing model with Delta employees.
“Appreciate the shout, Bill, but Delta would be nothing without our 90,000 people,” Bastian replied. “They deserve all the credit.”
The profit-sharing announcement came just days after four teachers filed a lawsuit against Delta for negligence after a plane bound for China dumped jet fuel over a Los Angeles schoolyard and buildings, exposing at least 20 children to the fumes and skin irritation.