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Delta Air Lines is getting ready for a busy summer ahead. The demand for flights continues to surge and concerns around staffing shortages have weighed heavily. Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, spoke yesterday at Wings Club (an organization for professionals and executives in the aviation industry) and promised that 2023 would not be like 2022.
Last summer, Delta miscalculated operational demands. It scheduled more flights than it could possibly operate and ended up having tons of delays and cancellations as travelers filled planes to make up for travel time lost during the pandemic.
We all stretched ourselves. Even though we all told ourselves not to do it. Discipline is great to talk about, harder to do, and I think last summer we weren’t very disciplined — we did everything we could to make good cash.”
Last summer, airlines underestimated capabilities as airlines ramped up from depressed travel during the pandemic. Delta was one of the worst operationally with more than 4,000 cancellations. These were especially felt during busy travel weekends like Memorial Day and Father’s Day. Demand coupled with severe weather created a recipe for disaster.
Air Traffic Control is facing staffing shortages this summer and in busy areas like New York and Washington DC. As a result, airlines have already proactively trimmed schedules (more about that here). Concerns are not stopping bookings and Delta has commented that international flights have over 75% of seats booked for the summer.
One other interesting note was around SkyMiles memberships. Over 600,000 people have joined the program since Delta rolled out free Wi-Fi for members this year.
Anthony’s Take: Summer travel is going to be even busier than last year. My hope is that the airlines have planned well enough to juggle demand and labor issues, but time will tell. Have a backup plan and be ready for delays and possible cancellations.
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