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Delta CEO sees some recovery from travel slump later in 2021

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 1, 2021

This photo from Oct. 9, 2012, shows a Delta Air Lines 747-400 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The leader of Delta Air Lines is telling workers that he expects some recovery from the coronavirus travel downturn by the spring.  (Associated Press)
This photo from Oct. 9, 2012, shows a Delta Air Lines 747-400 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The leader of Delta Air Lines is telling workers that he expects some recovery from the coronavirus travel downturn by the spring. (Associated Press)
Associated Press

Associated Press

DETROIT – The leader of Delta Air Lines is telling workers that he expects some recovery from the coronavirus travel downturn by the spring.

CEO Ed Bastian writes in a New Year’s Day memo to employees that he expects 2021 to start with travel deeply depressed like it was last year.

But as vaccines become more widely available, he expects a turning point especially in business travel.

He says Delta should generate positive cash flow by the spring.

Bastian wrote that there is uncertainty over what travel demand will look like once significant numbers of people are vaccinated, and that Delta must be nimble and ready for change.

“Just as we’ve never experienced a global pandemic in our history, we’ve also never had to create and execute a plan for recovery from one,” Bastian wrote. “Our success will depend on our collaboration, our willingness to be open to new ideas, our ability to adapt and our humility in recognizing that we won’t always know the answers.”

Air travel is less than half of what it was in 2019, but it has recovered a bit from a staggering 96% decline in mid-April 2020.

It’s unclear just how quickly vaccines will be distributed across the U.S.

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