Delta CEO reassures staff as it shrinks operations, cuts hours

Mar 25, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian reassured employees Wednesday that the carrier is in the midst what feels like a “war” to weather the sudden storm caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Atlanta-based carrier, which already warned last week that it will emerge from the crisis as a smaller airline, faces rapidly declining demand and a resulting cash crunch as passengers cancel existing bookings and shy away from new ones.

But Bastian told employees in a webinar viewed by TPG that the company will get through it.

“The coronavirus is a challenge that is clearly the biggest challenge this company has ever faced in our history,” he said. “It feels like a war that is at hand.”

Get Coronavirus travel updates. Stay on top of industry impacts, flight cancellations, and more.

VICTORVILLE, CA - MARCH 24: Delta Air Lines jets are parked in growing numbers at Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) on March 24, 2020 in Victorville, California. As the coronavirus pandemic grows, exponentially increasing travel restrictions and the numbers of people in quarantine, airlines around the world are scrambling to find places to park a majority of their fleet as they wait to see how the situation will play out. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Delta jets are parked in Victorville, California, as part of its plan to temporarily remove more than 600 aircraft amid plummeting demand from the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)


Delta is slashing capacity by 70% and as a result it is consolidating facilities at airports around the country. At its Atlanta (ATL) hub, the largest in the world, it is “minimizing use” of Concourses C, D and E — a move that will shrink it to roughly its 1980s footprint at the airport.

The Atlanta airport has even closed its southern runway, 10/28, to accommodate parked Delta jets.

Delta is also closing Terminal 3 in Los Angeles (LAX), Terminal 2 at New York John F. Kennedy (JFK), and parts of Terminal D at New York LaGuardia (LGA) amid facility adjustments across its network.

Related: Delta to emerge a much ‘smaller’ airline from coronavirus crisis

Airline employees are now being asked to reduce their hours – and pay — to help cut expenses. Ground staff must reduce their workweeks to three or four days, a move that will reduce payroll by as much as a quarter over the next 90 days.

Bastian, in a memo to staff on Tuesday, called the cuts “a meaningful contribution to the crisis at hand, and I thank you for making these sacrifices to protect Delta.”

“These are all temporary measures, but provide us significant savings during this difficult period,” he added.

Aid is on the way. Legislators in Washington have reportedly hammered out a deal for $50 billion in direct aid to carriers, split evenly between grants to fund employee compensation, and loans to maintain operations.

Delta expects to receive between $5 billion and $10 billion from the package after it is passed, Bastian said Wednesday.

Featured image by David McNew/Getty Images.

The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.