Delta optimistic on spring travel rebound even after 8K employees sick with COVID-19

Delta expects to return to profitability by March

Delta Air Lines projected Thursday it will suffer even more coronavirus-related losses over the next two months before returning to profitability by spring when travel is likely to perk up. 

The Atlanta-based carrier, like the rest of the industry, has suffered yet another blow due to the recent uptick in coronavirus cases driven by the omicron variant. Within the last four weeks alone about 8,000 Delta Air Line employees contracted the virus. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 38.20 -0.55 -1.42%

Earlier this week, United Airlines disclosed 3,000 employees had tested positive for COVID. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS INC. 41.05 -0.38 -0.92%

With droves of workers calling out sick and bad winter storms, thousands of flights were canceled throughout the holiday season, starting right before Christmas.  

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Virus Outbreak-Delta Air Lines

People sit under Delta sign at Salt Lake City International Airport on July 1, 2021.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file / AP Newsroom)

CEO Ed Bastian noted that the January and February months are usually "the weakest part of the year" for the airline but that "it’s going to be that much weaker because of omicron." 

However, the carrier expects to return to profitability in March. "Total March quarter revenue to recover to 72% to 76% of 2019 levels, compared to 74% in the December quarter," according to President Glen Hauenstein.

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As Delta bounces back from the pandemic, Bastian said several thousand hires are likely this year. Additionally, the company also set aside $108 million for special profit-sharing payments of $1,250 for each current employee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.