Middle seats on Delta Air Lines flights will probably remain open until the end of 2020 — and possibly into next year.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian said as much during this morning’s conference call announcing 2020 Q2 earnings.
The airline will also retire some of its A320s, 767-300ERs, and its (small) fleet of Boeing 737-700s.
Meet in the Middle? Nope.
Delta originally announced middle seats would be blocked on all flights through September 30.
But Mr. Bastian said Delta may extend the policy through at least the rest of this year. He mentioned it may also carry over into 2021. However, no specifics were mentioned and no official announcement was made.
He said the airline has received considerable feedback about its blocked-middle-seats policy. Mr. Bastian told us that is the number one reason feedback participants chose Delta over carriers.
When asked if the airline is blocking middle seats as a branding or marketing feature, Mr. Bastian solidly refuted that proposition. Rather, he said the policy was made to stress safety, restore consumer confidence, and stay faithful to the Delta brand.
Delta will retire all its Boeing 737-700s this year.
According to Wikipedia, the airline has only ten of the aircraft. (I personally flew them only a couple of times, most notably between Burbank at Atlanta before that service was suspended.) Based on some quick research I conducted before posting this article, the only 737-700 route I saw currently operated by Delta is an ATL to STT (and vice versa).
Plus, the airline will pare down its fleets of Airbus A320 and Boeing 767-300ER planes, too.
Mr. Bastian said it’s a little premature to know about pilot retraining on other aircraft.
Other Tidbits from the Call
A few other morsels I found interesting during this morning’s call:
- Travel bottomed in April, with demand at only about 5%.
- Mr. Bastian said the current customer base consists generally of domestic leisure travelers and those flying for essential reasons.
- Business travel normally accounts for 50% of Delta’s passengers. Mr. Bastian said the airline hasn’t seen anything “meaningful” yet in terms of current loads helping to reach that number again,
- In fact, he expressed doubts business travel will ever rebound to 2019 numbers in terms of volume. Mr. Bastian theorizes (just like most of us) that shorter meetings will be relegated to video calls instead of in-person gatherings. But he thinks business travel will remain important for relationship-building or other important meetings.
- While road warriors seem to grow more confident with flying, Mr. Bastian surmises business travel will be on about a 12-18 month lag, dependent on COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
- Delta’s cash burn is down to $27 million a day — which is down from a $100 million per day in March. ($17 million of the burn is attributed to US domestic travel). The C-suite suits credited employees who took unpaid leaves and others who worked reduced hours. (Can you imagine having to chop $73 million a day out of a budget?!)
Responses 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.