Delta Air Traces mentioned on Thursday that it misplaced $408 million within the closing three months of final yr, because the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which emerged late in that interval, interfered with vacation operations and pushed again the airline’s restoration.
About 8,000 Delta workers — multiple in 10 — had referred to as out sick in latest weeks, Delta’s chief govt, Ed Bastian, mentioned on CNBC on Thursday. That, mixed with dangerous storms, pressured the airline and its friends to cancel tens of 1000’s of flights over the busy vacation journey interval, with carriers solely simply starting to get well in latest days.
“Whereas the quickly spreading Omicron variant has considerably impacted staffing ranges and disrupted journey throughout the business, Delta’s operation has stabilized during the last week and returned to preholiday efficiency,” Mr. Bastian mentioned in an announcement. “We’re assured in a powerful spring and summer season journey season with vital pent-up demand for shopper and enterprise journey.”
The Omicron variant has delayed the airline restoration by about 60 days, Mr. Bastian mentioned. Delta alone scrubbed greater than 2,000 flights over the 2 weeks beginning on Christmas Day, the fourth most flight cancellations amongst U.S. airways.
United Airways, which canceled greater than 2,500 flights over that interval, mentioned this week that about 3,000 workers, greater than 4 % of its workers, just lately examined constructive for the virus. At one level over the vacations, almost a 3rd of United Airways workers referred to as out sick at Newark Liberty Worldwide Airport, a significant hub for United. Nearly all workers at each airways are vaccinated.
Regardless of the airline’s tough yr, Delta mentioned it might spend about $100 million to distribute bonuses of $1,250 to every of its 75,000 workers.
“It’s going to be our recognition and our gesture of because of you for the exhausting work and the sacrifice and the service you’ve made on behalf of our firm and on behalf of our clients,” Mr. Bastian mentioned in a video message to workers saying the bonuses, which can be distributed on Feb 14.
Shortly earlier than Christmas, Delta had warned the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention that the virus may disrupt vacation journey and requested the company to shorten its advisable isolation time for individuals who take a look at constructive for the virus, a transfer additionally supported by some public well being specialists. The company made that change days later, setting off a feud between Delta and one of many nation’s most distinguished airline labor unions, which mentioned that shortened isolation intervals put employees and vacationers in danger.
Though carriers lastly recovered from the vacation disarray this week, Omicron is predicted to weigh on journey within the coming months, Delta’s president, Glen Hauenstein, mentioned within the assertion.
“The latest rise in Covid instances related to the Omicron variant is predicted to impression the tempo of demand restoration early within the quarter, with restoration momentum resuming from Presidents’ Day weekend ahead,” he mentioned.
The airline expects losses in January and February and a return to profitability in March, with income over these three months anticipated to be about 72 to 76 % of the extent in the same interval in 2019. The airline’s income within the closing quarter of final yr was about 74 % of that within the final quarter of 2019.
Regardless of an anticipated loss within the first quarter of this yr, the airline mentioned it anticipated to report a revenue over the remainder of 2022.
Delta additionally mentioned that it eked out a small $208 million revenue for 2021, a feat that will have been unimaginable with out $4.5 billion in federal reduction to pay employees. The airline misplaced almost $12.4 billion in 2020 and had a revenue of about $4.8 billion the yr earlier than.
Delta is the primary main airline to report its fourth-quarter monetary outcomes. American Airways and United are anticipated to announce subsequent week, adopted by Southwest Airways the week after.