Delta slashes capacity, parks up to 300 jets amid ‘unprecedented’ coronavirus impact

Mar 13, 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 is taking drastic steps in self-preservation as it faces what CEO Ed Bastian calls an “unprecedented” impact from the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Atlanta-based carrier will cut system capacity by 40% over the “next few months,” suspend all flying to continental Europe for at least 30 days, and park up to 300 aircraft in an effort to mitigate the travel slowdown, Bastian told employees in a memo Friday. Delta will also cut capital investments by at least $2 billion and is offering staff voluntary unpaid leave.

“The speed of the demand fall-off is unlike anything we’ve seen – and we’ve seen a lot in our business,” he said. “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.”

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

Delta’s moves are by far the most drastic taken yet by a U.S. carrier amid the rapidly growing crisis from the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19. Other airlines, including American Airlines and United Airlines, have cut capacity and parked some planes, but neither had taken as drastic steps as Delta by early Friday afternoon.

The magnitude of Delta’s capacity cut is equivalent to removing an airline about the size of Air Canada from the skies, based on 2019 numbers.

Bastian did not say what 300 jets Delta plans to park during the crisis. However, airline executives did say on Tuesday that they were parking both narrow-body and wide-body aircraft, and were considering retiring Delta’s fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-88s and MD-90s early.

Related: US airline execs warn coronavirus impact ‘could be worse than 9/11’ downturn

Delta had 898 aircraft, ranging from the Boeing 717 to the Airbus A350, in its mainline fleet at the end of December, its latest fleet plan shows. It contracted another 442 regional jets with affiliate carriers.

“The situation is fluid and likely to be getting worse,” Bastian said in the memo. “[But] Delta remains better-positioned to weather a storm of this magnitude than ever before in our history… We will get through this, and taking strong, decisive action now will ensure that we are properly positioned to recover our business when customers start to travel again.”

Featured image courtesy bradleypjohnson via Flickr.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.