Delta plans to suspend all its flights to continental Europe for at least the next month, continuing to fly only to London, according to an internal memo the airline's CEO sent to employees Friday.
It's a massive reaction to President Donald Trump's European travel ban and a sign that even the world's largest and most profitable airlines are entering survival mode. In his memo obtained by Brian Sumers of Skift, CEO Ed Bastian said the airline is making “difficult but determined actions to protect the financial position of the company.”
— Brian Sumers (@BrianSumers) March 13, 2020
“Demand for travel is declining at an accelerated pace daily, driving an unprecedented revenue impact,” Bastian said in his letter. “This is a severe crisis.”
Suspending flights to Europe was just one of several actions Bastian laid out, but by far the most drastic. Bastian said Delta will pause all European service outside of London for at least 30 days – “which could be extended.” The cuts appear to take effect immediately.
That will suspend dozens of nonstop flights to and from Europe. It goes far, far beyond the stoppage of flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and other, smaller cities Delta announced earlier.
Uhm, so, this is a route map of all the flights that @Delta operates today that are likely to be cut over the next 30+ days.
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) March 13, 2020
Combined with other cuts, it adds up to a 40% reduction in Delta's flights. That's a larger reduction than the airline made in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The anxiety surrounding coronavirus has hit the entire travel industry hard. Trump's travel ban, which is set to take effect Friday at midnight and last at least a month, threw another wrench in airline's plans. While U.S. citizens are still allowed to fly from Europe to the U.S., foreign nationals are banned from entering the country. And that likely made it next-to-impossible for airlines to continue flying without losing gobs of money. The United Kingdom and Ireland are exempt from the ban.
The toll of that confusion and alarm has been stark. Bastian said that Delta is “currently seeing more cancellations than new bookings over the next month.”
Bastian also said the airline would be parking up to 300 of its planes, which amounts to a third of Delta's fleet. He also said he'd decline his salary for at least six months and delay aircraft deliveries and modifications, among other measures.
What to Do If Your Flight is Affected
With nearly all Delta flights to Europe canceled over the next month, plenty of travelers will be left in the lurch. Luckily, there are some options.
Passengers on affected flights may be able to be placed with a partner carrier such as KLM or Air France. Delta will likely offer a travelers a chance to take a full refund, as it has in the past.
Otherwise, Delta is offering free change and cancellation (for a voucher) for all flights to Europe through May 31. Just beware that Delta (and all airlines) are dealing with an unprecedented volume of calls and messages, and that will only worsen with this latest news. With a rush of traffic, Delta has had plenty of trouble processing these changes properly – or at all.
Follow our tips to change or cancel your flight.
If you are booked on a Delta flight beyond mid-April, you may not be in the clear. Delta specifically warned that this 30-day suspension could expand, so stay tuned for more details.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for more updates.