Category Archives: Delta Air Lines

Delta and TSA team up to speed up security lines

Delta Air Lines made this announcement:

  • The new lanes allow travelers to keep electronics and approved liquids in their carry-on bags 
  • Delta, TSA continue to work together to enhance health and safety protocols at all checkpoints 

Just in time for holiday travel, Delta, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the Transportation Security Administration are speeding up security lines for faster, hassle-free domestic travel from Atlanta.

Atlanta’s domestic terminal south security checkpoint is the first in the U.S. that will be converted to computed tomography-automated screening lane (CT-ASL) systems* – making the world’s busiest airport even more efficient as travelers connect to destinations around the world.

The new lanes allow travelers to keep electronics and approved liquids in their carry-on bags and are being installed throughout the remainder of the year to help people move through Atlanta’s south checkpoint more seamlessly and with fewer touchpoints.

“Our partnership with TSA and the Atlanta airport allows us to improve the security experience by making it faster and more seamless, which is something we know is important to our customers,” said Eric Phillips, Delta’s Senior Vice President — Airport Customer Service. “This enhancement in our largest hub market will help reduce stress, minimize airport touchpoints and improve the overall experience for Atlanta travelers for years to come.”

In recent tests, Delta teams have seen customers move through security nearly 20 percent faster using this technology.

The new systems also help minimize touchpoints and reduce crowding for safer travel – protocols that have become especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 70 percent of Delta’s customers have cited the TSA checkpoint as one of the most important parts of their journey to remain clean and sanitized.

TSA otherwise continues to adjust its security operations during the pandemic by implementing proactive and protective measures at security checkpoints to make the screening process safer – plexiglass barriers and distancing markers have been installed at airports across the country, agents are required to wear masks and gloves, high-touch screening equipment and bins are cleaned hourly, and other surfaces are cleaned daily or as needed in airports nationwide. More information can be found at tsa.gov/coronavirus.

“The safety and security of travelers is the No. 1 priority of TSA, and our partnership with Delta and ATL is critical in helping develop innovative security enhancements to improve the travel experience,” said Eric Beane, TSA’s Interim Federal Security Director.

In addition to industry-leading CT scanners with improved X-ray technology for enhanced detection, the new lanes feature fully automated bin returns and dual tray loads. That means travelers can push bins onto the belt as soon as they are ready and do not need to stack their bins after passing through security. And customers won’t have to worry about items left behind – the bins are scanned before they’re stacked to make sure personal belongings aren’t forgotten.

Plus, customers at these checkpoints will no longer have to remove electronics or liquids for scanning, further reducing the risk of lost personal items.

Delta and TSA 

This is not the first time Delta has worked with government agencies to make travel easier. Delta and TSA worked together to introduce the first ASLs followed by the first two CT-ASLs at Atlanta’s international terminal checkpoint last year – the same terminal where Delta, CBP and TSA launched the first fully biometric terminal in the U.S. in 2018. Earlier this year, Delta and TSA launched antimicrobial bins that prevent the growth of a broad spectrum of bacteria for automated screening lanes at five Delta hubs.

“It is a great honor for Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to house the first fully CT-ASL security checkpoint in our south terminal,” said John Selden, General Manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “As a world-class airport, we are continuously seeking ways to enhance the customer travel experience. We look forward to partnering with Delta and TSA to provide passengers with a more seamless security process.”

*TSA is required to maintain one legacy lane with a traditional, non-automated system for oversized carry-on items.

Airport security infographic

Delta launches interactive travel requirements map to take more stress out of planning your next trip

Delta Air Lines has made this announcement:

  • New tools on Delta.com offer at-a-glance look at travel requirements, COVID testing and additional features to make planning travel easier
  • Latest way Delta is using technology to address customer feedback and lead industry efforts to help customers return to travel

Navigating ever-changing travel requirements can be tricky, but Delta is making it easier to plan and book your next trip by bringing detailed travel requirement information, an updated look at where we fly, and a seamless connection to booking into a single easy-to-use tool on Delta.com.

A new interactive map gives you the power to search, view and click-to-book their desired destination all in one place, giving them full control and a better understanding of current requirements and what to expect upon arrival. This new functionality, powered by Smartvel, allows Delta teams to deliver the best experience possible even before customers return to travel.

The tool gives insight into quarantine and testing requirements, travel forms and paperwork, local health information, local COVID-19 guidelines, and links to necessary forms and applications needed prior to travel. Customers can have confidence in Delta’s industry-leading connectivity to take them where they want to go, and know the airline will prioritize their health and safety throughout the journey.

This intelligent map and search tool aggregates the most updated travel requirements from the U.S. and around the world into an intuitive user interface. Delta is making it easier than ever to quickly find information on travel conditions in your favorite destinations, what you can do to prepare and what you can expect when you land.

The data is carefully curated from national and local government agencies and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to give customers a comprehensive picture of what they need to know. And several enhancements are already in the works, as we’re currently evaluating how we can provide:

  • Detailed information on negative COVID-19 test result requirements – effortlessly giving insight into what is needed and where you can go to get a COVID test prior to travel
  • Different ways to access to the new travel restrictions map using the Fly Delta App on your phone or tablet in addition to Delta.com – giving you all the critical information you need at your fingertips
  • Personalized pre-flight emails that keep you up to date on the information you need to know about your destination

Technology to take the stress out of travel

At CES, the airline laid out a vision to bring technology front and center in the customer experience to reduce stress and offer a more personalized experience. Since the onset of the pandemic, Delta has used digital solutions to quickly and intelligently address customer pain points brought on by COVID-19, including:

  • Implementing dynamic technology to automatically unblock middle seats for parties of three or more, so customers traveling as a group can sit together, even as we continue to block the sale of middle seats on our aircraft.
  • Expanded self-service technologies like Apple Business Chat – a tool aimed at reducing customer wait times to address issues with their reservation.

Customers tell us they want more simplicity as they manage the challenges imposed by the pandemic across all steps in their journey.

Flying made simple

Delta also want customers to feel confident when booking, knowing they can easily change their travel plans. That’s why we permanently eliminated change fees for U.S. domestic travel, excluding Basic economy fares, beginning in 2021. For any tickets purchased through December 2020, Delta is also waiving change fees for both domestic and international travel.

Delta, Los Angeles International Airport accelerate terminal transformation by 18 months

Delta Air Lines has made this announcement:

Customers can now look forward to the all-new Los Angeles International Airport experience a full 18 months sooner than planned.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined leaders from Delta and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Thursday to announce the acceleration of the Delta Sky Way terminal modernization project  – a $1.86 billion project to modernize, upgrade and connect Terminals 2, 3, and the Tom Bradley International Terminal that will now be ready in mid-2023.

The announcement came during a “topping out” ceremony Thursday as the final steel beam was secured to complete the central headhouse structure, where Delta’s consolidated check-in lobby, security checkpoint and bag claim facility will be located.

“LAX is a central pillar of our economic strength — part of the connective tissue bringing our city to the rest of the world — and we remain focused on enhancing its infrastructure, strengthening our workforce, and transforming the traveler experience,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Even as we confront the immediate crisis of COVID-19, we are accelerating our work to devise a premier airport where visitors are greeted by reimagined terminals, workers land in good-paying jobs, and the city of the future truly takes off.”

Lower passenger volumes at LAX and throughout the U.S. are allowing for the temporary closure of Terminal 3 and the acceleration of the project, making it possible for the facility to open in mid-2023, instead of late 2024.

“If there’s a silver lining to fewer people flying right now, it’s that we have an opportunity and a team with the know-how to pull the future forward on infrastructure projects like Sky Way at LAX, which will deliver an exceptional experience much faster than planned for our customers and employees,” said Mark Pearson, Delta Vice President – Corporate Real Estate. “This is all possible thanks to the incredible support of LAWA, the City of Los Angeles and our construction partners who are aligned with our vision, and our employees who continue to be nimble in supporting customers throughout each phase of construction.”

Delta’s LAX central headhouse will open in the first quarter of 2022. The facility will also provide connectivity beyond security between Terminals 2 and 3, currently only possible via shuttle bus. The project will provide access to the LAX Automated People Mover, opening in 2023.

Sean Burton, President of Board of Airport Commissioners added: “By working in close partnership and cooperation with Delta Air Lines, Los Angeles World Airports is leveraging opportunities to create efficiencies and deliver this project ahead of schedule by more than a year. “We are grateful to Delta and all our partners who are helping us build world class facilities worthy of our great City.”

“As we reimagine Los Angeles International Airport, the modernization of Terminals 2 and 3 is an example of how we are realizing our goal to be one of the top international airports in the world by creating new facilities and passenger experiences that are modern, streamlined and built on a framework of advanced technology,” said Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer, LAWA. “The new headhouse will be a new front door for Delta Air Lines guests, creating a key linking point for the north terminals and providing easy access to the Automated People Mover train when it begins operations in 2023.”

When completed, the modern LAX facility will offer more security screening capacity, automated security lanes, more gate-area seating and Delta’s largest Delta Sky Club. This is in addition to all the amenities that Delta customers have come to expect at LAX, including the Delta ONE at LAX check-in space and a world-class concession program in partnership with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Corporation.

Other key features and benefits include: 

  • A 27-gate complex on Terminals 2 and 3 with a secure connection to Tom Bradley International Terminal, enabling Delta and its global partners to effectively utilize gates in all terminals, while allowing customers to seamlessly traverse between each using convenient corridors, cutting down connecting times by up to 20 minutes
  • A new headhouse with centralized lobby, security screening checkpoint, baggage claim and Delta Sky Club
  • Reconstructed Terminal 3 concourse with new gates and a complete renovation of the 1960s-style satellite building. Terminal 3 will be larger, have more gate and seating space and feature premium retail and dining lineups
  • The largest Delta Sky Club found anywhere featuring an indoor/outdoor double bar, a year-round outdoor Sky Deck, premium showers and more
  • A revamped Delta One check-in experience to speed through check-in, enjoy expedited security lines and more
  • Convenient and contemporary restroom facilities
  • More access to at-seat power in gate areas
  • State-of-the-art finishes that provide a greater sense of space and comfort
  • Modern, intuitive signage
  • Connection to the Automated People Mover train, which is expected to be fully operational in 2023, connecting to the Intermodal Transportation Facility – West, Consolidated Rent-a-Car facility. and ultimately the LA Metro light rail, making it easier for customers to get from across LA to their airport terminal without getting into a car
  • Airfield efficiency, thanks to dual taxi lanes that allow for more streamlined movement of aircraft and on time arrivals

“We’ve built a robust domestic and international network out of Los Angeles that customers have quickly come to rely on,” said Scott Santoro – Delta Vice President – Sales. “We remain committed to offering the destinations and service customers have come to expect from Delta out of L.A. as the Sky Way project continues and our network is poised to be stronger than ever out of LAX as we recover from the pandemic.”

The Delta Sky Way project is part of the $14 billion LAX Modernization Program that will see LAX transformed in advance of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles, of which Delta is the inaugural founding partner. It is being completed in partnership with LAWA and the City of Los Angeles, and is part of more than $12 billion in airport infrastructure projects that Delta is investing in at several of its key hubs in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake City and Seattle.

Delta has also accelerated construction of the $3.9 billion transformation of its New York – LaGuardia hub with an anticipated new completion by the end of 2025 – six months ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, the new Salt Lake City Airport that opened in September of this year will see projects including airfield pavement work and remaining gates at concourses A and B completed by mid-2024 – a full year ahead of schedule.

Photo captions: At top, a gigantic steel beam is hoisted and secured into place, marking the completion of Phase 1 of the LAX Sky Way project. Below, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signs the beam. The other two images are renderings showing the completed project.

Delta installs high-tech antimicrobial lighting to better protect airplane lavatories

Delta Air Lines has made this announcement:

  • Installation of first Vyv antimicrobial LED lighting (non-UV) in onboard lavatories begins in mid-November on Delta 757-200 fleet through early 2021
  • This latest layer of protection promotes enhanced cleanliness and customer health

Delta is adding an additional layer of antimicrobial protection to airplane lavatories to enhance cleanliness: LED lighting that will better protect customers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Through a partnership first announced at CES 2020 in January, the carrier is beginning installation of Vyv (pronounced “VIVE” – formerly known as Vital Vio) antimicrobial LED lighting above onboard lavatory sinks and countertops – known as a high-touch area on board. The light continually reduces the growth of bacteria within the lavatory.

These antimicrobial LED lights, when combined with electrostatic spraying and frequent cleaning, help to improve cleanliness and eliminate germs in lavatories. In-flight crews also use kits that include disinfectant spray, wipes and gloves to ensure the thorough sanitization completed before boarding stays fresh throughout the flight.

“Innovation is central to everything we do at Delta. Our partnership with Vyv shows how we are adapting the vision we showcased at CES to double-down on our commitment to customer health and safety,” said Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer. “This technology will provide another of the many layers we’ve put in place that, when working together, keep customers safe. For Delta, there’s no more important goal for applied innovation.”

Vyv is a visible spectrum LED light (non-UV) that provides high-quality illumination that is deadly to bacteria, while being ideal for continuous use around people and animals.

Beginning in mid-November with the Delta 757-200 fleet, customers will notice more aircraft outfitted with Vyv. After installation on this initial fleet, Delta plans to conduct further tests in 2021 with the hope of expanding installation in the future.

Customers will know their flight is equipped with Vyv thanks to newly installed messaging placards in outfitted lavatories. These placards feature a link customers can visit to learn more about Delta’s layers of protection and how the company is harnessing innovative collaboration to keep customers safe.

Continuing Delta’s Innovative Spirit 

At CES, Delta unveiled its plans to revolutionize air travel, becoming the first airline with a keynote address at the conference and showcasing innovations aimed to overhaul the customer experience. Shortly after, the airline quickly pivoted to lead the industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, introducing Delta CareStandard – layers of protection across the customer journey to keep customers and employees safer during travel.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, our nimble teams from Delta Flight Products and TechOps have worked in partnership with our Innovation team to deliver cleanliness solutions for customers,” said Don Mitacek, S.V.P. – Technical Operations. “This is another example of how Delta and our startup partners have worked together to create a safer travel experience.”

The pivot made after CES elevated the use of research and insights to re-map the entire customer experience with health and safety in mind. For Vyv, this meant accelerating the cross-company partnership to bring the technology quickly to market.

“It’s a credit to Delta that our companies were working in close partnership long before the pandemic to improve Delta customers’ overall experience,” said Colleen Costello, Co-founder and CEO of Vyv. “Installing our advanced antimicrobial lights above the lavatory counters creates an ideal setting for continuously ensuring a cleaner environment for passengers and staff. We are excited to have a positive impact onboard Delta aircraft this fall and look forward to continuing our collaboration into the future.”

Partnership and flexibility have been central to Delta’s work during the pandemic. In addition to partnerships with the Mayo Clinic and RB (makers of Lysol), the airline has made use of employee skills and project capabilities across subsidiaries to manufacture face shields for local Atlanta hospitals, retrofit shipping containers into mobile hospital rooms for the military and deliver more than 1 million pounds of food to local charities.

Delta has introduced more than 100 changes to cleanliness protocols since the onset of the pandemic – most of which are here to stay. From blocking middle seats into January 2021 to changing high-grade HEPA air filters twice as often as recommended, to becoming the first U.S. airline to install hand sanitizer stations onboard, the airline is constantly improving the new standard of care based on expert medical advice and the customer feedback.

Working together, these layers of protection help to address customer stress points by offering cleaner surfaces, more space and safer service from curb to baggage claim.

Through Delta’s partnership with Engage and its own startup incubator The Hangar, Delta continues to build relationships with startups like Vyv and create the best experience possible for customers.

Learn more about the Delta CareStandard and Delta’s health and safety protocols.

Delta to operate the last Boeing 777 revenue flight on October 31

Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-232 ER N865DA (msn 29737) CDG (Christian Volpati). Image: 912042.

Delta Air Lines on Friday, October 30, 2020 will operate its last international Boeing 777 revenue flight from Tokyo (Haneda) to Los Angeles as cargo flight DL 3456.

Top Copyright Photo: Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-232 ER N865DA (msn 29737) CDG (Christian Volpati). Image: 912042.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-232 ER N862DA (msn 29734) JFK (Fred Freketic). Image: 949819.

Above Copyright Photo: Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-232 ER N862DA (msn 29734) JFK (Fred Freketic). Image: 949819.

The carrier is also closing out the Boeing 777 chapter with two domestic flights to Los Angeles:

October 30, 2020: DL 8787 Atlanta – Los Angeles 1500 (3 pm) – 1630 (4:30 pm) with N703DN

October 31, 2020: DL 8777 New York (JFK) – Los Angeles 1300 (1 pm) – 1600 (4 pm) with N701DN

Delta added the Boeing 777-200 ER type in March 1999.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-232 LR N706DN (msn 30440) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 907044.

Above Copyright Photo: Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-232 LR N706DN (msn 30440) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 907044.

"Soaring Spirit" - Delta's salute to the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics

Above Copyright Photo: Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-232 ER N864DA (msn 29736) (Soaring Spirit – Salt Lake City 2002) CDG (Christian Volpati). Image: 912048.

Harvard study: Flying presents lower risk of COVID-19 than grocery shopping, dining out

Delta Air Lines has made this announcement:

A new gate-to-gate study by scientists from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health is the most comprehensive research to date to conclude that the layered approach U.S. airlines, including Delta, have taken to protect customers and employees from COVID-19 means the risk of exposure during air travel is very low.

To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not confirmed a single case of COVID-19 transmission on a U.S. airplane.

Delta boarding“The risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard aircraft [is] below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out,” the Harvard researchers concluded. “Implementing these layered risk mitigation strategies…requires passenger and airline compliance [but] will help to ensure that air travel is as safe or substantially safer than the routine activities people undertake during these times.”

The report concludes that the universal use of face masks, diligent cleaning protocols and advanced ventilation and filtration systems offer significant protection against COVID-19, lowering the risk of transmission on an aircraft to minimal levels.

Wearing of face masks by passengers and crew is essential

The study determined that the use of face masks was “the most essential part of a comprehensive set of measures to reduce COVID-19 during air travel.”

Delta was one of the first airlines to require customers and employees to wear a mask or face covering across Delta touchpoints at airports and onboard the aircraft. It’s an extension of our safety commitment and enforcement is a responsibility we take seriously. We ask customers to acknowledge as part of the check-in process their willingness to wear a mask throughout travel. And we insist that customers who have an underlying condition that prevents them from wearing a mask complete a “Clearance-To-Fly” process upon arrival at the airport.

Flight attendant cleaningDeep cleaning of high-touch aircraft surfaces disinfects, removes contamination

The report’s findings also support Delta’s extensive cleaning practices, including our industry-leading commitment to electrostatic spraying of high-touch surfaces using high-grade disinfectant between flights on a daily basis. The cabin interior on every Delta flight is thoroughly sanitized prior to boarding using electrostatic sprayers – including lavatories.

Delta flight attendants wipe down high-touch surfaces in lavatories frequently during each flight,   regularly making sure lavatories are clean, tidy, stocked with supplies and ready for customers. Using kits that include disinfectant spray, wipes and gloves, flight attendants ensure the thorough sanitization completed prior to boarding stays fresh.

Ventilation systems on passenger aircraft are highly effective at refreshing, filtering air

Harvard’s research team noted the “highly effective ventilation systems” on aircraft, which mitigate disease exposure by rapid and continuous filtering and exchange of cabin air. Keeping the air clean and safe during flight is one of the most foundational layers of protection Delta aims to provide to our customers and employees. Just as we have focused on ensuring clean air onboard by replacing our industrial-grade HEPA filters twice as often as recommended, we are also committed to ensuring clean air on the ground.

Delta GSE employee with air filterDelta is replacing the current air filtering systems that pump outside air into our jetbridges and parked aircraft with LEED Platinum MERV14 filters that result in a more than 40% reduction in air particles and cleaner air in those spaces during boarding and deplaning.

Layered risk-mitigation will ensure air travel remains as safe or safer than other routine activities

The study concluded it takes a “combination of layered infection control measures” to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. And Delta has provided layers of protection from check-in to baggage claim to deliver a new standard of cleanliness, more space – including blocking the selection of middle seats and limiting the number of customers per flight into January 2021 – and safer service and care for customers and employees alike.

Airbus delivers its first U.S.-assembled A220 from Mobile, Alabama

Airbus has delivered its first U.S.-assembled A220 aircraft from Mobile, Alabama, underlining the aircraft manufacturer’s role as a global aircraft producer and heralding the arrival of a new era in Airbus aircraft production in the United States. The aircraft was delivered to Delta Air Lines.

“The delivery of the first U.S.-built A220-300 is a historic moment that highlights Airbus’ growing industrial footprint in North America and makes us all extremely proud,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman & CEO Airbus Americas, Inc. “We look forward to seeing passengers delighted by the experience of travelling on board this brand new A220-300 proudly built in Mobile, Alabama.”

Several milestones led up to this historic moment. From the groundbreaking of the Mobile A220 Final Assembly Line in January 2019, through the official start of A220 production in August 2019, and the inaugural flight of this aircraft in June, the A220 teams in Mirabel (Quebec) and Mobile worked closely together to make the A220 production in the U.S. a success.

To date, approximately 400 U.S. employees have been trained on A220 production – some in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada, where the A220 program and primary final assembly line are located. A year ago, the first U.S. based A220 production team, comprised of experienced and new team members, began assembling A220s in Mobile.

Delta Air Lines is currently the largest A220 customer, with a total of 95 A220 aircraft on order, and will be the first A220 operator in the Americas to be operating both A220-100 and A220-300 aircraft types.

As of end September 2020, 123 A220s have been delivered to seven operators and are being flown on routes in Asia, America, Europe and Africa, proving the great versatility of Airbus’ latest family member.

Delta Air Lines announces third quarter financial results, announces fleet retirements

Delta Air Lines today reported financial results for the September quarter 2020.  Detailed results, including both GAAP and adjusted metrics, are on page four and are incorporated here.

“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.”

September Quarter Financial Results 

  • Adjusted pre-tax loss of $2.6 billion 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
  • 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.  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 (see Note A) averaged $24 million per day, and $18 million per day for the month of September

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 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

 

Fleet Type

Number of
Aircraft

Estimated Final Retirement
During the Quarter Ended

MD-90

26

June 2020

767-300ER

7

June 2020

A320

10

June 2020

MD-88

47

June 2020

737-700

10

September 2020

777

18

December 2020

CRJ200

125

December 2023

717

91

December 2025

767-300ER

49

December 2025

Total

383

Cost Performance

Total adjusted operating expense for the September quarter decreased $5.5 billion or 52 percent versus the prior year quarter excluding $3.1 billion in charges related to the voluntary separation and early retirement programs for employees, $2.2 billion in restructuring charges from fleet-related decisions, and a $1.3 billion CARES Act benefit.  This performance was driven by a $1.8 billion or 78 percent reduction in fuel expense, a 75 percent reduction in maintenance expense from parking or retiring nearly 40 percent of mainline aircraft and lower volume- and revenue-related expenses.  Salaries and benefits expense was down 32 percent as a result of approximately 18,000 employees electing to depart the company in addition to benefits from voluntary unpaid leaves, work hour reductions and other initiatives.

Non-operating expense for the quarter was $349 million higher versus the prior year quarter, driven primarily by $221 million in higher interest expense from increased debt levels the company has incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our results this quarter were underpinned by a strong focus on costs, as we reduced adjusted operating expenses by more than 50 percent, similar to the June quarter, despite flying 23 points more capacity,” said Paul Jacobson, Delta’s chief financial officer.  “That cost focus allowed the increase we’ve seen in net sales to flow directly into an improvement in our daily cash burn, which improved from $27 million per day in June to $18 million per day in September.”

Balance Sheet, Cash and Liquidity

Delta ended the September quarter with $21.6 billion in liquidity.  Cash used in operations during the quarter was $2.6 billion.  Daily cash burn averaged $24 million for the quarter, with an average of $18 million for the month of September.

At the end of the September quarter, the company had total debt and finance lease obligations of $34.9 billion with adjusted net debt of $17.0 billion, $6.5 billion higher than December 31, 2019.  In September, Delta completed the largest debt offering in aviation history, raising $9.0 billion at a blended average rate of 4.75 percent secured by its SkyMiles loyalty program.  In addition, the company borrowed $1.5 billion at a blended yield of 4.4 percent in connection with the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, that will be used to finance the LaGuardia airport project.  The company’s total debt had a weighted average interest rate of 4.3 percent at September 30, 2020.

Subsequent to the end of the quarter, the company repaid the $3 billion, 364-day term loan that it entered into in March, increasing its unencumbered asset base to $9 to $10 billion of aircraft, engines and spare parts and reducing remaining debt amortization and maturities to $2.3 billion through the end of 2021.  The company also repaid $2.6 billion under its revolving credit facilities drawn down in March 2020.

At the end of the September quarter, the company’s Air Traffic Liability stood at $4.6 billion, including a current liability of $4.4 billion and a non-current liability of $0.2 billion.  The non-current liability represents the current estimate of tickets to be flown, as well as credits to be used, beyond one year.  Travel credits represent approximately 60 percent of the Air Traffic Liability at the end of the September quarter.

CARES Act Accounting, Fleet Restructuring and Voluntary Separation and Early Retirement Program Charges

In the September quarter, the company received $701 million under the payroll support program (PSP) of the CARES Act, consisting of $491 million in additional grant funds and a $210 million increase in the low-interest, unsecured 10-year loan.  The September quarter amount includes an incremental $157 million beyond the initial $5.4 billion Delta was allocated in April 2020.  In the September quarter, approximately $1.3 billion of the grant was recognized as a contra-expense, which is reflected as “CARES Act grant recognition” on the Consolidated Statements of Operations.  The company expects to use the remaining proceeds from the PSP by the end of 2020.

During the September quarter, the company made the decision to retire its 717-200 fleet and the remainder of its 767-300ER fleet by 2025 and its CRJ-200 fleet by 2023.  As a result of these decisions, the company recorded $2.2 billion in fleet-related charges, which are reflected in “Restructuring charges” on the Consolidated Statement of Operations.

The company offered voluntary separation and early retirement programs to employees during the September quarter.  Approximately 18,000 employees participated in the programs, with most leaving the company August 1, resulting in a $3.1 billion restructuring charge in the September quarter, which is reflected in “Restructuring charges” on the Consolidated Statement of Operations.  Cash payments in connection with these programs totaled $813 million in the September quarter, and these payments are excluded from daily cash burn figures.  The company anticipates an additional $150 to $250 million in cash payments in the December quarter, $600 million in 2021 and the remaining payments in 2022 and beyond.

September Quarter Results

September quarter results have been adjusted primarily for the CARES Act grant recognition and restructuring charges described above.

GAAP

$
Change

%
Change

($ in millions except per share and unit costs)

3Q20

3Q19

Pre-tax (loss)/income

(6,859)

1,947

(8,806)

NM

Net (loss)/income

(5,379)

1,495

(6,874)

NM

Diluted (loss)/earnings per share

(8.47)

2.31

(10.78)

NM

Operating revenue

3,062

12,560

(9,498)

(76)

%

Operating expense

9,448

10,489

(1,041)

(10)

%

Fuel expense

486

2,239

(1,753)

(78)

%

Non-operating expense

473

124

349

NM

Total debt and finance lease obligations

34,870

10,119

24,751

NM

Total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM)

10.82

16.58

(5.76)

(35)

%

Consolidated unit cost (CASM)

33.40

13.85

19.55

NM

Average fuel price per gallon

1.25

1.94

(0.69)

(36)

%

Adjusted

$
Change

%
Change

($ in millions except per share and unit costs)

3Q20

3Q19

Pre-tax (loss)/income

(2,589)

1,968

(4,557)

NM

Net (loss)/income

(2,096)

1,507

(3,603)

NM

Diluted (loss)/earnings per share

(3.30)

2.33

(5.63)

NM

Operating revenue

2,645

12,507

(9,861)

(79)

%

Operating expense

5,004

10,460

(5,455)

(52)

%

Fuel expense

489

2,257

(1,768)

(78)

%

Non-operating expense

230

79

151

NM

Adjusted net debt

17,012

10,265

6,747

66

%

Total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM, adjusted)

9.35

16.51

(7.16)

(43)

%

Consolidated unit cost (CASM-Ex)

15.96

10.15

5.81

57

%

Average fuel price per gallon

1.25

1.96

(0.71)

(36)

%

About Delta Air Lines  Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) is the U.S. global airline leader in safety, innovation, reliability and customer experience. Powered by our employees around the world, Delta has for a decade led the airline industry in operational excellence while maintaining our reputation for award-winning customer service.

Today, and always, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our customers and employees. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta has moved quickly to transform the industry standard of clean while offering customers more space across the travel journey. These and numerous other layers of protection ensure a safe and comfortable travel experience for our customers and employees.

With our mission of connecting the people and cultures of the globe, Delta strives to foster understanding across a diverse world and serve as a force for social good.

Harvard study: Masks, when worn throughout travel, offer significant protection from COVID-19

From Delta Air Lines:

Face masks are an essential part of a layered strategy to keep customers safe and reduce transmission of COVID-19 throughout air travel, according to a new technical bulletin published this week by faculty at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study’s conclusions reference recent research that suggests the universal use of masks in settings such as those on aircraft may reduce infection risk from respiratory particles to less than 1 percent.

“The use of face masks is critically important throughout the air travel process, from entering the airport for departure to leaving the destination airport,” according to the Harvard report. “When the use of masks is implemented with other measures built into aircraft operations, such as increased ventilation with HEPA filtration in the aircraft and disinfection of surfaces, these layered [interventions] offer significant protection from acquiring COVID-19 through air travel.”

Harvard’s bulletin – part of a set of evidence-based recommendations to reduce the public health risks of flying during the COVID-19 pandemic – also cites another report that describes two COVID-19-positive passengers who traveled on a 15-hour flight with 350 other passengers; both wore masks, and no one else on the flight was infected.

Delta was one of the first airlines to require customers and employees to wear a mask or face covering across Delta touchpoints at airports and onboard the aircraft. It’s an extension of our safety commitment, and enforcement is a responsibility we take seriously. We ask customers to acknowledge as part of the check-in process their willingness to wear a mask throughout travel. And we insist that customers who have an underlying condition that prevents them from wearing a mask complete a “Clearance-To-Fly” process upon arrival at the airport.

“There’s no doubt that wearing a face mask is one of the most important ways to stay safe in the airport and on board, and it’s why we were so quick to incorporate it into our approach to protecting our customers and employees,” said Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer Bill Lentsch. “Thanks for doing your part to stay safe and protect those around you.”

Delta has implemented layers of protection from check-in to baggage claim to deliver a new standard of cleanliness, more space and safer service and care for customers and employees alike. When added to measures such as sanitizing aircraft surfaces with electrostatic spray before 100% of flights, blocking middle seats while capping aircraft capacity, and changing aircraft HEPA filters twice as often as recommended, mask-wearing provides a consistent layer across all travel touch points that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Delta continues to make the necessary decision to ban customers who refuse to wear masks onboard. So far, more than 300 individuals have been barred from future Delta flights for failing to comply with this critical safety precaution.