Delta eyes summer bookings as losses surge to $1.2bn

Photo: AP

US carrier Delta Airlines announced bigger than expected loss in the first three months of this year, AP reported. The negative result went as high as 1.2 billion dollars, but the airline still expressed optimism over rising ticked bookings for late summer as Covid-19 restrictions start to ease in most industrial countries.

CEO Ed Bastian confirmed ticket sales had been stronger in the last couple of weeks compared to any time since the pandemic hit the US last year. So far most of the people boarding planes are vacationers booking trips to mountains, beaches and resorts. The increase in passengers, combined with lower costs for labor and fuel, helped Delta generate $4 million in cash per day in March after burning cash for the past year.

“It’s clear that our business is turning the corner and we’re moving into an active recovery phase,” Bastian said in an interview. “We see the business continuing to improve as consumer confidence grows.” However, Delta forecast that second-quarter revenue will be down 50% to 55% compared with the same quarter in 2019, which analysts said fell short of expectations. The company’s shares, which have more than doubled since last May, fell 3%.

Several airlines have reported that bookings began to pick up in February and gained speed in March. Delta’s bookings doubled from January to March, although 10% to 15% are using credits from previously canceled flights. US leisure sales have recovered to 85% of pre-pandemic levels, Delta said.

Airlines are adding flights for the summer vacation season in the expectation that passengers will show up. American Airlines said that it expects to run about 90% of its US pre-pandemic schedule this summer.

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