Delta Air Lines Loses Over $400 Million as Thousands of Staff Infected and 2,200 Flights Cancelled

Delta Air Lines on Thursday said that 8,000 of its employees had been infected by COVID-19 over the last four weeks, leading to more than 2,200 flight cancellations since December 24, 2021. Reports suggest that Delta lost a massive $408 million in the final quarter of the last year. For the full year, the airline reported a profit of $280 million, its first in two years. Excluding the impact of certain charges and government aid, Delta reported that its adjusted net income is $143 million for the quarter while it incurred a loss of $2.6 billion.

Amid the surging Covid-19 cases, the company predicts that it will suffer one more quarterly loss before making any recovery as travel is likely to perk up in spring and summer. The airlines also said that it expects to shake off the Omicron impact that hit the airline's operation and damped its revenue. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said that the new Covid-19 variant resulted in a roughly $75 million hit in the fourth quarter, including lost revenue from flights cancellations and a slowdown in bookings.

Reports suggest that the airline had to cancel over 30,000 U.S. flights between Christmas Eve and January 11, 2022, as Omicron, the fast-spreading Covid-19 variant, derailed the airline's operations in many parts of the country, upending executives' expectations of a lucrative holiday travel season.

Delta Air Lines
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Delta recorded its highest revenue since late 2019, in the fourth quarter due to strong holiday bookings and more business travel. While analysts' expected $9.21 billion, sales went up to $9.47 billion. However, the airline is yet to fully recover from the Covid-19 crisis. During the last three months of 2019, the company's revenue was down 17% from $11.44 billion.

Moreover, Delta's shares went up by 2.7% in premarket trading after the results were announced by the company. According to reports, Bastian said that omicron is likely to delay the rebound in travel demand by two another months while President Glen Hauenstein said, "The recent rise in COVID cases associated with the omicron variant is expected to impact the pace of demand recovery early in the quarter, with recovery momentum resuming from President's Day weekend forward."

The airline expects to become profitable again and expects to recovery between 72% and 76% and has decided not to back off flying plans for the rest of 2022. "We see no reason to adjust at this point. We're gonna get through this thing quickly," Bastian said.

This article was first published on January 13, 2022