Delta Air Lines held its second-quarter 2022 earnings call yesterday. The airline reported a profit of $652 million — including that little $1.5 billion in federal aid.
CEO Ed Bastian led the call, with several Delta corporate brass adding their two cents here and there.
Here are some topics they covered that I think you might find interesting.
Have Customer Service Problems?
If you’ve called Delta during the past several months, chances are you’ve encountered a significant wait time to speak with a rep.
Hours later, when you finally speak with someone, the service can be less than impressive.
Will everything return to “normal”?
Mr. Bastian anticipates that’ll happen by September. The company plans to add a total of around 2,000 people to its reservations department. (About 1,000 of them have already been hired). He pointed out that those new employees must be trained — which takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight.
Some former employees who took early retirement or other buy-outs are also returning.
He added that recent volume exceeded peak 2019 figures. Combine that will fewer reps working the phones and that results in long wait times.
Also on the job front: the airline plans to hire about 4,000-5,000 people this year. He said Delta is having “great success” finding people who want to work for the airline.
Mr. Bastian: “Send Me a Note” If You Need Help
USA Today’s Dawn GIlbertson put the screws to Mr. Bastian about Delta’s lack of direct message help on Twitter.
“You guys appear to be one of the only major airlines that aren’t responding via DM,” she said.
“Yeah, I’m not sure about that,” Mr. Bastian answered. “We’ll get back to you.”
Then he added with a chuckle, “By the way, people email me…every day, every hour. And that’s a good way…so if someone needs help, send me a note. I’ll take care of it.”
The Amex Relationship is Fine ’n Dandy
This week, an apparent clerical error sparked rumors that American Express was dropping Delta SkyMiles as a points transfer partner. That was untrue.
If anything, the Delta-American Express love fest is stronger than ever.
Delta co-branded Amex Card earnings for June 2021 were up 110% from June 2019 — well before the pandemic reared its ugly head. And that’s without a significant amount of travel, international, and business spending on the cards.
“I think we have the best performing card in their portfolio,” Mr. Bastian said, adding he’s “thrilled” about Delta’s “great” relationship with Amex.
Mr. Bastian said in a statement that, “Domestic leisure travel is fully recovered to 2019 levels and there are encouraging signs of improvement in business and international travel. “
First, that’s darn impressive that domestic leisure travel has recovered.
How are things on the corporate/business travel front?
“Corporate volumes experienced steady improvement through the quarter, doubling from 20 percent recovered in March to 40 percent recovered in June.”
Mr. Bastian said Delta conducted its own survey among its corporate clients (“the biggest companies in the world”). Here’s what the airline found (as of last week):
- 36% of Delta’s major corporate clients expect to return fully to pre-COVID travel levels before June 2022
- 21% plan to fully be back to pre-COVID travel practices no later than 2023
- 5% say they’ll never return to pre-COVID levels
- That figure is down from 8%, which is what a previous study revealed
- 38% aren’t sure when they’ll return to full business travel.
Based on those findings, Mr. Bastian expects Delta’s corporate travel to return to about 90% of pre-COVID numbers during the next couple of years.
“Frankly, I think it’ll be even better than that,” he said.
Capacity Limits and Middle Seats Blocked Again in High-Risk Markets?
Delta has no plans to limit capacity or block middle seats where COVID is still causing substantial problems.
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