Delta Air sank to a $12bn loss in pandemic 2020

Ed Bastian

US carrier Delta Airlines has posted devastating results for the pandemic ridden 2020, AP reported. However, losses were not as bad as expected and even experts saw prospects for returning to growth as vaccination process gains speed.

Delta reported a $755 million loss in the fourth quarter alone bringing the total negative result to $12.4 billion for the whole 2020.

The results likely would have been worse but for a December increase in air travel that likely contributed to another surge in virus infections as people spent more time with family and friends.

The outlook for Delta and other airlines in 2021 is dependent on how quickly the US and other nations can vaccinate enough of their citizens against the Covid-19 so travel restrictions can be eased. Delta predicts that first-quarter revenue will fall 60% to 65% from the same period in 2019 - almost the same as the 65% decline in the fourth quarter. It expects to lose $10 million to $15 million a day in the next three months. After that period, however, the situation is seen improving.

CEO Ed Bastian is sticking to a prediction that Delta will reach break-even sometime this spring. “Hopefully the vaccines will be distributed at a much heightened level, that the virus will be much more contained, and that people will be ready to get on with their lives,” Bastian said, quoted by AP.

Delta revenue in the fourth quarter plunged to $3.97 billion from $11.44 billion a year earlier, when the pandemic was just beginning to affect US travel. Delta slashed its flight schedule, which helped it save $1.3 billion on fuel. Buyouts and early retirements allowed the company to cut spending on wages and benefits by $1 billion.

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