Let’s start as I always do when talking about stocks and specifically Delta Air Lines or $DAL stock. I don’t ever buy or sell any airline stocks including Delta. Next, I really don’t care one way or another if the Delta stock price goes up or down – I care about the user experience and that is the data I am after in these types of calls. So let’s see what got my attention:
- SkyMiles redemption
- Branded fares
- Monetize SkyMiles program
- Meltdown week
- United bump mess
- Aircraft retirement including the 747s
Delta’s President Glen talked about the fact that SkyMiles redemption was up 10%. I would love to know how much of these numbers is due to folks overpaying i.e. more than Level 1 awards (hello, paging ADAM) or due to more people booking or what. I doubt they will ever tell us the inside story. The key thing is they want folks burning miles for anything and folks do.
Next up we have branded fares. What are these? Think C+ or evil BASIC E class etc. Much talk about growth and such and the only thing that really got my attention is talk about more 1st class up sales. Nothing new, we know they want 20×2020 even though they did not mention that.
Then we have upgauging of aircraft – that is, taking what was once a smaller jet and inserting a large one into that route. We will see more of this. I love this as it means less horrid CRJ200s. Expect less frequent flights as a result but again I don’t care if it means more larger jets (with real 1st class seats).
Then there was a question about monetizing the SkyMiles program i.e. selling or spinning it off in some way as other airlines have done. This was flatly shot down with no plans at all or even to consider it to get a market value out of SkyMiles. The CEO Ed mentioned it is more important as a relationship between the company and the customers. Well, Ed, then stop destroying the value of the awards month after month? Just a helpful suggestion.
The total meltdown week was touched on. They all talked about the storm, the total shutdown, crews in the wrong places and other things we all know. There was still blame deflection but also somewhat taking responsibility and mentions of fixing the IT issues that did not “crash” but were overwhelmed. To me, if it does not work for hours and hours, it is just semantics in saying slow vs. crash. I, like many of you, don’t have a lot of trust in Delta IT.
United had to come up and it did. I really wonder if Ed looked over my post from yesterday as he said just about what I said. Delta is much better at bump situations than United ever will be. And clearly they don’t beat up paying passengers. 😉
Lastly of note was one thing that just shocked me. They said all the domestic 767s are retired. I missed that. These did have the worst 1st class seats in the fleet but the best coach seats. I have mixed feelings to see the dedicated domestic widebody ships go away. Also touched on was that some of the oldest international 767s will start to go away at the end of the summer. The A350 will be an amazing replacement and I cannot wait to try it. The 747s end were talked about and I reached out to Delta PR folks about the last flight and could not confirm what I have been told by others that the flight from ICN-DTW landing on the 17th of December will be the last one. Stay tuned to see if that is the last and final one!
So there you are. Nothing really earth shattering but a few gems to pique our interest. Did you also listen to the Q report? Any other bits that got your attention that I missed? – René