ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said Wednesday that the Atlanta-based air carrier is returning many of its employees in Reservations, Sales & Customer Care, TechOps and other departments to full-time status to assist customers.
According to a memo to Delta employees from Bastian on Wednesday, the carrier said it plans to return all merit and hourly ground-based employees to full schedules, effective Jan. 1, 2021.
As many as 145 of the carrier's 760 aircraft were grounded, while another 380 planes were being eliminated from its fleet.
Delta was burning more cash every day than airline fuel. It was going through $100 million a day when COVID-19 went viral, but now, it's down to $24 million. Delta said the daily loss is expected to improve to $12-to-$14 million a day through the end of the year.
Bastian told Liss that he sees Delta making a strong recovery in the spring of 2021.
"We expect in the spring we will be back to positive-generating cash flow," Bastian predicted. "The vaccine cannot come soon enough, and that is going to be the key to getting confidence back in travel and people back out in public.”
One fear is that with business travel at a near standstill, fares could quickly rise. But Bastian said he thinks just the opposite.
"For the holidays, I'd expect fares are actually going to be at a very good level for consumers. They actually are going to be lower than they were year-over-year,” Bastian said.
And to boost passenger's confidence in flying, Delta is requiring masks, as well as using high-tech equipment to sanitize aircraft; utilizing state-of-the-art filtering systems, and continuing its policy of keeping middle seats in coach empty through the end of March.
And what has been the impact of Delta leading the industry in keeping that middle seat empty?
“Interesting fact, Bill -- as I know you are all about getting into the details,” Bastian said, adding that, “In the 3rd quarter, with numbers recently released by the industry, Delta had more revenue on its planes than American, Southwest, and United, on average had, despite the fact we had 30% fewer seats available for sale.”