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In an internal memo to the airline’s 90,000 employees, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said “demand for travel is declining at an accelerated pace daily, driving an unprecedented revenue impact.” He said the move is the largest “capacity reduction” since the 9/11 attacks.
As multiple industries continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, airline travel has been particularly hit hard. Many governments have enacted tough travel restrictions, including the United States. Beginning midnight Friday, travel between European countries and the United States will be halted for 30 days.
“Cancellations are rising dramatically with net bookings now negative for travel over the next four weeks,” Bastian said in the memo. “To put that in perspective, we’re currently seeing more cancellations than new bookings over the next month.”
Delta will stop all flights to continental Europe for 30 days with the exception of London. The temporary travel restrictions do not apply to the United Kingdom.
Additionally, Delta will offer short-term, unpaid leave to employees and will implement a hiring freeze to offset losses. Bastian also said he will forgo his salary for the next six months.
“The speed of the demand fall-off is unlike anything we’ve seen – and we’ve seen a lot in our business,” he said. “We will get through this, and taking strong, decisive action now will ensure that we are properly positioned to recover our business when customers start to travel again.”
Other airlines are also cutting back. American Airlines will stop flying to continental Europe in a week and will suspend some service to South America. United Airlines will cut service from the U.S. to Europe by half.
Bastian said he will give employees an update next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.