Delta Air Lines reported on Thursday (April 15) that cash burn averaged $11 million per day during the March quarter, although the air carrier began generating $4 million per day in cash in the month of March.
“This marks a critical milestone in the path to restoring our financials; it is truly a great accomplishment, especially considering that our middle seat block limited the inventory that we’re selling and [that] business and international travel remain muted,” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said on a call with analysts, noting that the airline will begin selling middle seats amid “improving demand and vaccine trends.”
However, the pandemic continued to hit Delta’s revenues, with management reporting that passenger revenues were down by 70 percent in the March quarter 2021 in contrast to the March quarter 2019 on a “55 percent lower sellable capacity as Delta was the only carrier to continue blocking middle seats.”
While domestic passenger revenues were down by 66 percent compared to March quarter 2019, they were up over five points in contrast to the last quarter’s results, fueled by leisure demand. But international passenger revenue was 81 percent below March quarter 2019, fueled by ongoing travel restrictions.
In terms of pandemic recovery, Bastian said in response to an analyst’s question that the two biggest bottlenecks it faces are “clearly getting our pilot training and our pilots into the right categories and ready to fly. And secondly, maintenance, making certain that we got our aircraft and our engines and all the work ready for a pretty quick rebound.”
Management reported that it restored its staff to full hours at the beginning of the calendar year, and that it will recall each of its 1,700 pilots that had been put on inactive status.
As for its overall results, Delta Air Lines reported $3.55 in adjusted loss per share on $4.15 billion in revenue for the three months that concluded March 31, 2021. The results fell short of analysts’ bottom-line estimates of a loss of $3.13 per share, but exceeded their top-line estimates of $3.91 billion.
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