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Delta posts $12 billion loss in 2020, cautious 1Q outlook

SeattlePI.com Thursday, 14 January 2021 ()
Delta Air Lines closed the books on a disastrous 2020 with a comparatively small fourth-quarter loss, and executives expect a few more rocky months before — they hope — widespread coronavirus vaccinations and testing might salvage something of the upcoming summer travel season.

Delta on Thursday reported a $755 million quarterly loss and a $12.4 billion loss for the entire year. 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.

Much like the final nine months of last year, the outlook for Delta and other airlines in 2021 is intertwined with how quickly the United States and other nations can vaccinate enough of their citizens against the coronavirus 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, however, the Atlanta airline sees things getting.

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.

People will soon be planning summer vacations and, Bastian said in an interview, Delta expects bookings “to start opening up again.”

However, international travel and business trips, two lucrative sources of revenue for Delta and its rivals, are expected to recover more slowly than less-profitable domestic leisure travel.

Bastian said he expects that...
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Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Published
News video: Delta posts first annual loss in 11 years

Delta posts first annual loss in 11 years 01:10

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian expects 2021 to be “the year of recovery” after the coronavirus pandemic cut operating revenue by 64% and prompted its first annual loss in 11 years. Fred Katayama reports.

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