Delta Air Lines is not booking the middle seat during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Whereas other major US airlines are doing as there is a slight surge in demand for air travel.
However, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said on Tuesday that as the airline is less crowded that is one reason many customers are choosing Delta.
“When we survey our customers about the reasons you’re purchasing a ticket on Delta, space onboard the plane, the blocked middle seats, has gone to the No. 1 reason why customers are choosing Delta,” he said.
The airline will be blocking the middle beyond September 30. No major airline has yet announced such an extended date.
On the other hand, Southwest is the other airline which is promising limited seats through September 30. JetBlue is also offering limited seat policy to follow social distancing.
American Airlines and United are selling every seat possible. Unites says social distancing is not possible on the aircraft and said blocking the middle seat is a policy to attract more customers and not a safety measure.
Bastian did not mention till when they will not book the middle seat. But it looks like they will go with this policy till the end of this year or the beginning of 2021.
Prioritizing Customer Opinion
He said it all depends on the customers how they feel safe to travel and it also increases ticket sales.
“We’re gonna hear from customers as to their comfort in travel,” he said.
“I’d rather add more flights back and more seats into the market in a safe way than trying to maximize the number of people you can put on an individual airplane,” he said.
He also mentioned that no middle seat policy will not be the ultimate solution once travel rebounds. And airlines need to cover up the losses that are incurred due to the low demand for air travel.
“Everyone appreciates it’s not going to last forever,” he said, “but in the face of a health crisis that space onboard really matters and customers are telling (us) that.”
Low Financial Performance
This is Delta’s worst financial year in its history. The airline quarterly revenues have gone down to $1.5 billion from $12.5 billion which was in the previous year. 91%, revenue decline has been seen, coming down to just $1.4 billion from $12.5 billion a year ago.
The airline’s revenue for the April-June quarter is just $1.5 billion, versus $12.5 billion in the same period a year ago. Moreover, passenger counts are down by 93%. The airline has reported a net loss of $5.7 billion, compared with a profit of $1.4 billion last year. However. It is the first major airline to report results for the quarter.