Delta Air says bookings have bottomed out and business is improving

Delta Air Lines passenger planes are parked at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, the United States, on March 25, 2020 due to flight reductions to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage

BOSTON, Oct. 3 (Reuters) – Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) announced that ticket sales have stabilized and started to improve, putting it on track to achieve third-quarter revenue within the original forecast range.

“For Delta they reached their lowest point in late August and early September,” said CEO Ed Bastian on Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting of the airline group IATA to reporters. “Business in the US is growing again”

In July, the company had forecast adjusted sales in the third quarter of 30 to 35% from 2019 levels. Last month, the airline said quarterly revenue would be on the lower end of forecast following a COVID-19 resurgence.

A Delta official said Monday that there was no update to the outlook the company gave last month.

The airline will release results for the quarter ended September 13th on October 13th.

Bastian said domestic travel bookings are expected to exceed 2019 levels next year.

The airline later announced it would increase its capacity in Boston next summer by more than 20% from its 2019 peak by adding five new routes, including two international destinations.

The company is also seeing a surge in demand for transatlantic flights after the White House decided late last month to reopen the country to fully vaccinated travelers from around the world.

Transatlantic flights accounted for 11% to 17% of 2019 passenger revenue for the three major airlines – American Airlines (AAL.O), United Airlines (UAL.O) and Delta.

Bastian said Delta’s vaccination rate had increased to 84%, in part due to the company’s decision to impose a monthly health insurance surcharge of $ 200 for those who had not been vaccinated. He said he expected the rate to top 90% by November 1.

However, Delta is the only major U.S. airline that has still not mandated coronavirus vaccines for employees despite White House pressure.

Bastian said the company has not yet decided whether to mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

“We’re obviously investigating,” he said, referring to President Joe Biden’s Executive Order (EO) requiring federal contractors to require vaccinations.

“I’m not sure how far you have to go to meet the EO,” said the CEO.

The White House is urging major U.S. airlines to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their employees by December 8 – the deadline for federal contractors. Major US airlines have a number of federal contracts. Continue reading

Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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