Delta Airlines posts heavy Q3 loss as COVID-19 hits travel


Posted by Sade Williams 


Still battling with the serious impact of COVID-19, Delta Airlines said it has recorded a big loss in the third quarter of 2020.

The airline in its September 2020 quarter financial results, recorded adjusted pre-tax loss of $2.6 billion which excludes $4.0 billion of items directly related to the impact of COVID-19 and the company’s response, including fleet-related restructuring charges and charges for voluntary separation and early retirement programs for Delta employees, which were partially offset by the benefit of the CARES Act grant recognized in the quarter.

Its total adjusted revenue of $2.6 billion declined 79 percent on 63 percent lower capacity versus prior year.

Total operating expense, which includes the $4.0 billion of COVID-related items described above, decreased $1.0 billion over prior year.

It added that adjusted for those items and third-party refinery sales, total operating expense decreased $5.5 billion or 52 percent in the September quarter compared to the prior year, driven by lower capacity- and revenue-related expenses and strong cost management in the business.

At the end of the September quarter, the company had $21.6 billion in liquidity
During the September quarter cash burn averaged $24 million per day, and $18 million per day for the month of September.

“While our September quarter results demonstrate the magnitude of the pandemic on our business, we have been encouraged as more customers travel and we are seeing a path of progressive improvement in our revenues, financial results and daily cash burn,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer.

“The actions we are taking now to take care of our people, simplify our fleet, improve the customer experience, and strengthen our brand will allow Delta to accelerate into a post-COVID recovery,” he added.

Revenue environment 

Delta’s adjusted operating revenue of $2.6 billion for the September quarter was down 79 percent versus the September 2019 quarter as demand for air travel remains under significant pressure. Passenger revenues declined 83 percent on 63 percent lower capacity. Non-ticket revenue streams have performed relatively better than passenger revenues, with total loyalty revenues declining 60 percent and cargo declining 25 percent.

“With a slow and steady build in demand, we are restoring flying to meet our customers’ needs, while staying nimble with our capacity in light of COVID-19,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s president. “While it may be two years or more until we see a normalized revenue environment, by restoring customer confidence in travel and building customer loyalty now, we are creating the foundation for sustainable future revenue growth.”

Setting the Foundation for Recovery

Delta said it has taken a number of actions to position the company to accelerate into a post-COVID recovery:
*Taking great care of Delta people through the voluntary separation and early retirement programs, voluntary unpaid leaves, job sharing and other initiatives, the company has been able to avoid involuntary furloughs for ground and flight attendant employees.

*Launching a “Stop the Spread. Save Lives.” campaign to emphasize the six core health actions that protect Delta employees against COVID-19, including wearing masks, social distancing, testing and getting a flu shot. Delta is providing no-cost COVID-19 testing and flu shots for its U.S. employees

*Improving the customer experience
Emphasizing health and safety with the Delta CareStandard, a multi-layered approach that includes intense cleaning protocols, blocking middle seats and requiring masks onboard all aircraft.

*Reducing complexity for customers by eliminating change fees for nearly all domestic fares and redeposit/reissuance fees on domestic reward tickets for SkyMiles Members
Taking a customer-centric approach to refunds, with approximately $2.8 billion returned to customers year-to-date.

Simplifying the fleet
Restructuring its Airbus and CRJ aircraft order books to better match the timing of aircraft deliveries with network and financial needs over the next several years. The restructuring reduces aircraft purchase commitments by more than $2 billion in 2020 and by more than $5 billion through 2022.

*Accelerating its fleet simplification strategy, which is intended to modernize and streamline the company’s fleet, enhance the customer experience and generate cost savings. The company has announced plans to accelerate retirements of nearly 400 aircraft by 2025, including more than 200 in 2020

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