US carrier Delta Air Lines has reportedly urged ‘at least’ 3,000 of its flight attendants to take unpaid leave.

The company said in an employee note that the leave could range from four months to one year amid other options, reported CNBC.

The move is part of the carrier’s plans to avoid involuntary furloughs. It employs 20,000 flight attendants.

Delta in-flight service senior vice-president Allison Ausband was quoted by CNBC as saying: “Based on the forward-looking network schedule we know today – recognising there will be continued schedule volatility with Covid-19 – we’ve confirmed we will be over-staffed from October into the summer of 2021.

“In keeping with our culture, we are continuing to put our people first by introducing several new options that provide innovative opportunities to preserve jobs.”

Last month, the carrier reported a 91% decline in second-quarter revenue and a $3.9bn adjusted pre-tax loss.

However, the carrier is forbidden from involuntarily furloughing workers until 30 September according to the terms of a $25bn federal aid package.

In June, Delta reportedly considered informing more than 2,500 pilots about potential furloughs.

In May, Delta Air Lines considered retiring its fleet of Boeing 777s and other older high-maintenance jets to reduce costs due to a steep fall in passenger traffic as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.