Delta Takes Extra Pandemic Precautions
Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian has recently announced that as a part of Delta’s new “layers of protection” against COVID-19. Beginning June 15, 2020 Delta will conduct company wide testing. These tests will initially be available at Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) and then expand to its hubs in Atlanta, Detroit, and then on to New York. In a companywide memo, Mr. Bastain wrote, “As the economy begins to recover and travel demand rises, we know that ongoing COVID testing is going to be another critical component in your safety. A full testing protocol… will be essential as we protect your health and begin the return to normal operations.”
As the number of domestic and international travelers has increased, Delta realizes that it must be proactive as opposed to reactive in pandemic prevention of new cases spreading at its facilities and aboard its aircrafts. Delta has been very aggressive in sanitizing its aircrafts. Prior to the pandemic outbreak, Delta counted nearly 90,000 employees around the world. Currently, Delta disinfects its aircraft before every flight, staff and travelers are required to wear masks onboard. Delta has also is capped the number of people that can sit in first class cabins at 50% and economy cabins at 60% through the end of September.
Plans are already underway to create a new global cleanliness division, headed by Mike Medeiros. This new department is charged with developing and executing everything related to keeping planes and facilities clean and safe. This move shows Delta to be at the forefront to ensure the safety and quality of health for its employees and passengers. All of the major airlines are
forecasting an increase in passengers for the traditional summer travel season. It has basically boiled down to is pandemic vs profits. At the beginning of the pandemic virus in April, Delta was losing more than $60 million of cash each day, more than a 95% drop in demand from the same period last year. At that same time, the airline had canceled 115,000 flights for April, more than 80% of its schedule.
Delta has already adding back some of the flights it cut this summer. While schedules are only relatively final through July, the airline will fly about 23% of what it flew in the U.S. domestic market a year ago in June and nearly 40% in July. Delta has already returned around 46 jets to service and plans to bring another 74 out of storage in July to support its expanded schedule.
Delta is clearly proceeding with caution. The carrier is matching availability with passenger confidence. With states opening up and the loosening of quarantine restrictions, that confidence is building despite increases in the virus. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening numbers hit a new post-COVID peak of 441,255 people on last Sunday, June 7. However, the number remains around 17% of those screened on the same day a year ago.