In what is possibly the biggest aircraft grounding announcement from any airline around the globe as of yet, Delta Air Lines says it will park up 300 aircraft as it struggles to maintain sufficient loads as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The coronavirus has hit the aviation and tourism industry hard, with many airlines including Norwegian, Korean Air and Alitalia struggling to stay afloat. Airlines around the globe have announced significant cuts to their operations, with larger aircraft being among the first to get grounded.
In an internal memo to employees, Delta Air Lines CEO, Ed Bastian, explained that the carrier would be cutting 40% of its capacity, which is the largest cut in the airline’s history – including 2001, the email read. As a result, the airline would need to ground 300 aircraft. Delta Air Lines, being a major global player, has a fleet of just over 900 aircraft.
Delta Air Lines is also suspending services to mainland Europe, having quickly announced a reduction of services to Italy as soon as the coronavirus pandemic began to impact daily life significantly. Delta Air Lines has not, however, suspended services to London. The carrier offers connections to a number of cities from London, including to Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Portland and Salt Lake City.
The memo also mentioned that the carrier would be deferring new aircraft deliveries in a move that would allow the carrier to preserve cash. Furthermore, it doesn’t make economic sense for the airline to ground 300 aircraft while also taking delivery of new planes. The airline will also be delaying aircraft modifications which would help it to keep expenses as low as possible.
Effective immediately, Delta Air Lines will also be suspending all hiring efforts and will offer voluntary short-term, unpaid leave.