In an open letter to its 90,000 employees, the chief executive of Delta Air Lines said he would forego 100 percent of his pay for the next six months as he tries to steer the airline through the Coronavirus crisis. Ed Bastian described the “fluid” situation as “unprecedented” and along with a raft of new measures said more “critical” decisions would follow in the coming days.
“Cancellations are rising dramatically with net bookings now negative for travel over the next four weeks. To put that in perspective, we’re currently seeing more cancellations than new bookings over the next month,” Bastian told staff.
“The speed of the demand fall-off is unlike anything we’ve seen – and we’ve seen a lot in our business.”
Measures announced today included cutting overall capacity by 40 percent – more than the capacity cut after 9/11 – as well as:
- Cutting service to Europe for 30-days with the exception of London
- Grounding 300 planes
- Deferring new aircraft deliveries
- Cutting capital expenditure by $2 billion
- Freezing all recruitment and offering unpaid leave
Delta currently has a fleet of around 800 aircraft – representing nearly 38 percent of its fleet set to be parked up for the foreseeable future.
“The situation is fluid and likely to be getting worse,” Bastian warned but maintained that the airline “remains better-positioned to weather a storm of this magnitude than ever before in our history.”
Bastian called on Delta workers to take unpaid leave as it fought to keep the airline afloat. Revealing that he had been in contact with the White House and Congress, Bastian said he was confident Delta would receive financial assistance from the U.S. government.
“We need to assure our customers it is safe to fly in all respects, now more than ever,” Bastian continued, while also saying he understood the need for social-distancing.
The letter continued:
“I know many of the newer members of the Delta family have never experienced this level of uncertainty in our business. Your veteran colleagues will tell you that we have been through turbulent times before, and what has always carried us through has been our commitment to our values, our culture and each other.”
“I am confident that we will emerge from this crisis as a strong, trusted global brand that truly connects the world like no other. And we will be stronger for having gone through this experience.”