A month ago, Bastian was looking toward “a really strong holiday period.” Then, the omicron surge combined with snowstorms just before Christmas, causing staffing shortages and flight cancellations that stretched into January.
Bastian said the disruptions ended up costing the airline about $75 million, mostly in revenue due to flight cancellations and a decline in bookings due to omicron. Storms cost the airline another $5 million. He said while there were costs due to the cancellations, “there were also some savings” from not operating the flights.
Through the last two years of COVID-19 disrupting travel, Delta has extended the expiration date for flight credits, which are given to many customers who cancel their travel plans. Delta announced this week that it will extend flight credits to allow rebookings through Dec. 31, 2023.
Bastian said the airline has made some cutbacks to its flight schedule, mostly international flights.
Delta President Glen Hauenstein said during an investor call Thursday that the airline also has reduced its regional flying by about 20% to 25% for the first half of the year as its regional carrier partners struggle to hire enough pilots.
After hiring 9,000 employees over the last year with plans to hire several thousand this year, Bastian said he is comfortable with the airline’s own staffing levels.
“You can’t run a business with reserves always in place to manage the unknown,” Bastian said. “You’ve got to manage with the resources you have.”