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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*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 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
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.