The US-based carrier has shown that even Covid can’t keep it down, reporting a net profit for the entirety of 2021.
The world’s second largest airline recently announced that its 2021 September and December quarters have edged it into the profit margin, with a GAAP net income of $280 million. While that may seem like a lot, it’s still significantly less than the $4.767 billion reported back in 2019. “Our September quarter marked an important milestone in our recovery, with our first quarterly profit since the start of the pandemic,” stated CEO Ed Bastian. “Our revenues reached two-thirds of 2019 levels thanks to the industry-leading operational performance our people delivered through a busy summer, once again showing why they are the best in the business.” Confident words, and Delta have certainly earned a fair amount of bragging rights with this financial report. Coming out of a net loss in the first half of 2021, the airline has achieved what the majority of players in the industry have found impossible due to Covid – a solid start to a real recovery. Even with the spread of Omicron causing further flight cancellations, and hitting global airlines hard, Delta has managed to keep itself afloat. What’s more, the carrier has acknowledged that it’s the momentous effort of its staff that has pulled it through what we all hope is the worst of the pandemic.
As a result, they’ve announced plans to share some of its profit with employees, with a one-off payment to those who worked hardest over the 2021 period. Now that’s a move I didn’t see coming. I would have assumed any airline managing to scrape together even the smallest profit would want to keep it all to aid further pandemic recovery efforts. Delta have done the smart thing here, however, realising that there would be no pandemic recovery without the hard work of its staff. Another factor to consider here is the reported strong holiday demand the airline received over the Christmas period, which it states contributed greatly to generating increased cash flow. At 78% of 2019 numbers, they’re not wrong – that’s a figure I thought I’d be waiting at least two more years to see any airline reporting. With revenue therefore growing for 5 quarters in a row now, the airline can safely say its Covid recovery efforts are working as intended. Despite the good news, however, Delta are still concerned about future disruption brought on by Omicron. “Omicron is expected to temporarily delay the demand recovery 60 days, but as we look past the peak, we are confident in a strong spring and summer travel season with significant pent-up demand for consumer and business travel,” States Bastian. It’s always good to be cautiously optimistic, and it’s refreshing to see proof that the pandemic does seem to at least be winding down, and its effect on global industries slowly coming to an end. Going forward, I’m excited to see more airlines reporting net profits, as the world slowly climbs out of the 3-year pandemic hole it’s been stuck in.