Delta Air Lines will suspend for at least the next 30 days flights to continental Europe and reduce overall capacity “in the next few months” by 40 percent as a result of coronavirus-related demand reduction, according to a Friday letter sent to employees by CEO Ed Bastian.
The capacity reduction represents the largest in Delta’s history, including the period following the 9/11 attacks, according to Bastian.
Delta will continue to fly to London, Bastian wrote.
“The speed of the demand fall-off is unlike anything we’ve seen—and we’ve seen a lot in our business,” Bastian wrote. “We are moving quickly to preserve cash and protect our company. And with revenues dropping, we must be focused on taking costs out of our business.”
Delta also will park up to 300 aircraft, defer new aircraft deliveries, implement a hiring freeze and “immediately” offer voluntary short-term, unpaid leaves, according to the letter. Bastian also wrote that he’ll forego his salary for the next six months.
“We’ll be making more critical decisions on our response in days to come,” Bastian wrote. “The situation is fluid and likely to be getting worse.”
Bastian attributed the moves to the demand dropoff due to the coronavirus, which has led to “large public events cancelled, businesses suspending travel, and popular destinations facing heightened government travel restrictions, including a 30-day ban to continental Europe announced Wednesday night,” he wrote.
“Cancellations are rising dramatically with net bookings now negative for travel over the next four weeks. To put that in perspective, we’re currently seeing more cancellations than new bookings over the next month.”
Delta also hopes to receive financial support from the U.S. federal government, according to Bastian.
“We are in discussions with the White House and Congress regarding the support they can provide to help us through this period,” he wrote. “I’m optimistic we will receive their support. That said, the form and value is unpredictable, and we can’t put our company’s future at risk waiting on aid from our government.”
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