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If you've been planning a vacation in recent months, you've likely heard about the ongoing issues plaguing the airline industry. Delays and cancellations have run rampant, and to make matters that much worse, ticket prices are sky high. As we reach the peak of the summer travel season, many of us are wondering if there is any end in sight, or if we should continue to expect scattered schedules and inflated prices. Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian actually addressed these concerns and provided an update on future air travel. Read on to hear what he had to say, and how the airline is addressing delays and cancellations now and moving forward.
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Delta announced flight cuts in late May.
In light of the travel boom, Delta issued an official announcement on May 26, which stated that the airline would be cutting around 100 daily flights from July 1 through Aug. 7. This was made in an attempt to mitigate potential logistical issues, while also building "additional resilience" and improving "operational reliability for our customers and employees," a press release from Delta stated, per The Points Guy.
And in late June, an airline spokesperson confirmed to The Points Guy that Delta would be cutting flights between seven major cities in the U.S., including flights between Atlanta (ATL) and Colorado Springs (COS), Atlanta and Oakland (OAK), and Detroit (DTW) and Sacramento (SMF). Plans were also scrapped for service between Boston (BOS) and Memphis (MEM).
Before they were able to set preventive plans in motion, between May and June, Delta canceled over 4,000 flights and had the most cancellations of any airline over the Memorial Day, Father's Day, and Juneteenth weekends, The Points Guy reported. Criticism abounded and now the airline's CEO is taking some accountability.
Delta issued an apology to frustrated flyers.
During a conference call on July 13, Bastian apologized to customers who have been affected by Delta's delays and operational issues, and those who've had longer wait times for customer service, The Points Guy reported.
"This quarter's operational performance has not been up to our industry-leading standard," Bastian said.
Before the investor call he also told CNBC, "We pushed too hard. We've scaled back a bit."
Things have gotten better thanks to flight cuts.
After previously announcing it would be cutting 100 daily flights, Bastian confirmed Delta is limiting capacity to lower levels than those seen in 2019, staying between 83 percent and 85 percent. This will continue as the airline hires and trains new employees.
With these measures, Delta's services have improved and continue to look up, Bastian said, per The Points Guy.
"July is off to a very good start with a 99.2 percent completion factor through the first 11 days of the month, which is exactly on par with the same holiday period during 2019," Bastian explained. "Over the last seven days of this period, we've had only 25 cancellations worldwide on over 30,000 departures."
When it comes to baggage, Delta is working on that as well, in an effort to prevent passengers from reporting lost luggage when they fly next. Bastian stated that due to issues at European hubs, baggage connection has been difficult, but on July 11, Delta did send a ferry flight to retrieve lost luggage in London.
"We had a separate charter just to repatriate bags back to customers, that have been stranded because of some of the operational issues that European airports were having," Bastian added.
Travel after the summer season could be more affordable.
The airline also reported a $735 million profit for the last quarter, per The Points Guy. This suggests passengers weren't deterred by higher prices set by the airline to offset other expenses. And Delta president Glen Hauenstein suggested on the call that they don't anticipate this thirst for travel being quenched in the immediate future.
"Momentum accelerated through the June quarter, enabling the recapture of higher fuel prices," he said. "We are seeing demand and pricing strength carry into the late summer and fall as demand remains strong."
But according to Bastian, not all hope is lost when it comes to flight prices. Later on during the July 13 call, Bastian implied that prices might dip by autumn, The Points Guy reported.
"We believe there's a lot of pent up demand for people who maybe didn't make it in the summer or got priced out in the summer, who will be able to travel in the fall," Bastian said.
So, if you haven't yet booked your summer getaway and could plan for later this year, it might just be worth the wait.