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Delta loses USD408 million; 8,000 employees hit with infection

AP – Delta Air Lines lost USD408 million in the final quarter of 2021, dragged down by a COVID-19 surge that rocked the airline in December, and the carrier predicted yesterday that it will suffer one more quarterly loss before travel perks up in spring and summer.

CEO Ed Bastian said 8,000 employees have contracted COVID-19 over the last four weeks.

Sick workers and winter storms have led to more than 2,200 cancelled flights since December 24.

Cancellations have dropped sharply in the past few days, but the spate of spiked flights cost the airline USD75 million and the latest outbreak, caused by the Omicron variant of the virus, is expected to push the industry’s recovery back by two months.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a pickup in bookings or travel during January and probably the first part of February,” Bastian said in an interview. “It’s always the weakest part of the year, and it’s going to be that much weaker because of Omicron. We need confidence in travel returning once the virus recedes.”

Delta expects Omicron infections to peak over the next few days and then decline rapidly as it has in South Africa and – more slowly – in the United Kingdom.

A passenger waits in a socially-distanced area for a Delta Airlines flight at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. PHOTO: AP