Delta Air Lines reports another quarter of big losses

Delta’s president says it may take two years or more to see a “normalized revenue environment.”

MINNEAPOLIS — Delta Air Lines is reporting a 79% revenue decline year over year, but company leaders say they “are seeing a path of progressive improvement.”

The company’s financial results for the September quarter were released Tuesday. As expected, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit the travel industry hard. Delta’s total adjusted revenue declined 79% versus the prior year, on 63% lower capacity.

Delta reported a GAAP pre-tax loss of $6.9 billion, and an adjusted pre-tax loss of $2.6 billion. The airline’s net loss for the quarter was $5.4 billion. 

The airline’s “cash burn,” or negative cash flow, averaged $24 million per day for the entire September quarter. However, that’s improved from $27 million per day in June to $18 million per day in September.

Passenger revenues specifically declined 83% on 63% lower capacity, while cargo only declined 25%.

“While our September quarter results demonstrate the magnitude of the pandemic on our business, we have been encouraged as more customers travel and we are seeing a path of progressive improvement in our revenues, financial results and daily cash burn,” CEO Ed Bastian said in a news release Tuesday. “The actions we are taking now to take care of our people, simplify our fleet, improve the customer experience, and strengthen our brand will allow Delta to accelerate into a post-COVID recovery.”

Delta spent $4 billion on COVID-19 impact and response during the September quarter, including restructuring its fleet and paying for voluntary separation and early retirement for some employees. It has also refunded approximately $2.8 billion returned to customers year-to-date.

Through the CARES Act, Delta received $701 million under the payroll support program (PSP) during the September quarter.

“With a slow and steady build in demand, we are restoring flying to meet our customers’ needs, while staying nimble with our capacity in light of COVID-19,” Delta President Glen Hauenstein said in the release. “While it may be two years or more until we see a normalized revenue environment, by restoring customer confidence in travel and building customer loyalty now, we are creating the foundation for sustainable future revenue growth.”

In April, early in the pandemic, Delta reported a loss of $534 million in the first quarter. It was the airline’s first loss in nearly five years. In its second quarter, it reported a net loss of $5.7 billion.

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