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HomeBUSINESSDelta, battling Omicron and storms, posts a fourth-quarter loss.

Delta, battling Omicron and storms, posts a fourth-quarter loss.

Delta Air Lines stated on Thursday that it misplaced $408 million within the last three months of final yr, because the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which emerged late in that interval, interfered with vacation operations and pushed again the airline’s restoration.

About 8,000 Delta workers — a couple of in 10 — had referred to as out sick in latest weeks, Delta’s chief government, Ed Bastian, stated on CNBC on Thursday. That, mixed with unhealthy storms, pressured the airline and its friends to cancel tens of hundreds of flights over the busy vacation journey interval, with carriers solely simply starting to get well in latest days.

“While the rapidly spreading Omicron variant has significantly impacted staffing levels and disrupted travel across the industry, Delta’s operation has stabilized over the last week and returned to preholiday performance,” Mr. Bastian stated in an announcement. “We are confident in a strong spring and summer travel season with significant pent-up demand for consumer and business travel.”

The Omicron variant has delayed the airline restoration by about 60 days, Mr. Bastian stated. Delta alone scrubbed greater than 2,000 flights over the 2 weeks beginning on Christmas Day, the fourth-most flight cancellations amongst U.S. airways.

United Airlines, which canceled greater than 2,500 flights over that interval, stated this week that about 3,000 workers, greater than 4 p.c of its employees, had lately examined constructive for the virus. At one level over the vacations, almost a 3rd of United workers referred to as out sick at Newark Liberty International Airport, a significant hub for United. Almost all workers at each airways are vaccinated.

Despite the airline’s tough yr, Delta stated it could spend about $100 million to distribute bonuses of $1,250 to every of its 75,000 workers.

“It’s going to be our recognition and our gesture of thanks to you for the hard work and the sacrifice and the service you’ve made on behalf of our company and on behalf of our customers,” Mr. Bastian stated in a video message to workers saying the bonuses, which will likely be distributed on Feb 14.

Shortly earlier than Christmas, Delta warned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the virus might disrupt vacation journey and requested the company to shorten its really helpful isolation time for individuals who take a look at constructive for the virus, a transfer additionally supported by some public well being specialists. The company made that change days later, setting off a feud between Delta and one of many nation’s most distinguished airline labor unions, which stated shortened isolation intervals put employees and vacationers in danger.

Although carriers lastly recovered from the vacation disarray this week, Omicron is anticipated to weigh on journey within the coming months, Delta’s president, Glen Hauenstein, stated within the assertion.

“The recent rise in Covid cases associated with the Omicron variant is expected to impact the pace of demand recovery early in the quarter, with recovery momentum resuming from Presidents’ Day weekend forward,” he stated.

The airline expects losses in January and February and a return to profitability in March, with income over these three months anticipated to be about 72 to 76 p.c of the extent in an identical interval in 2019. The airline’s income within the last quarter final yr was about 74 p.c of that within the final quarter of 2019.

Despite an anticipated loss within the first quarter of this yr, the airline stated it anticipated to report a revenue over the remainder of 2022.

Delta additionally stated it eked out a small $208 million revenue for 2021, a feat that may have been unimaginable with out $4.5 billion in federal aid to pay employees. The airline misplaced almost $12.4 billion in 2020 and had a revenue of about $4.8 billion the yr earlier than.

Delta is the primary main airline to report its fourth-quarter monetary outcomes. American Airlines and United are anticipated to announce subsequent week, adopted by Southwest Airlines the week after.

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