Delta, Southwest draw strong demand for pilot early departure deals

By Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines have each received strong demand from pilots for early departure packages aimed at slimming their workforces to weather the coronavirus pandemic, according to preliminary numbers.

The union representing Delta pilots said 2,235 pilots had volunteered for a voluntary early out program ahead of a Sunday deadline, up from 1,700 on Friday, when Delta told pilots it would avoid furloughs if they agreed to reduced guaranteed minimum pay.

At Southwest, around 24% of pilots and 33% of flight attendants have agreed to early retirement or long-term leaves of absence, a person familiar with the matter said.

There is a period for employees at both Delta and Southwest to rescind their decision, so the numbers are not final.

Delta and Southwest did not comment.

U.S. airlines, which received a $25 billion bailout in March to cover payroll for six months, are trying to encourage employees to accept voluntary exit deals in the hope of avoiding involuntary furloughs in the fall, when a government ban on forced job cuts expires.

They had hoped that air travel demand would recover by October, but have warned that bookings that began to rise from historic lows in May and June have now leveled off or even fallen due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson; Editing by Dan Grebler)

American Airlines, Delta, United to require facial coverings on U.S. flights

By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three of the largest four U.S. airlines said Thursday they will require passengers to wear facial coverings on U.S. flights, joining JetBlue Airways Corp in taking the step to address the spread of the coronavirus and convince reluctant passengers to resume flying.

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc and American Airlines Group Inc , along with the smaller Frontier Airlines, which is owned by private equity firm Indigo Partners LLC, announced they will require facial coverings next month.

Delta and United’s new rules start May 4, while Frontier’s start May 8 and American’s requirements begin May 11. The policies exempt young children from wearing masks or other facial coverings.

Many U.S. airlines are also requiring pilots and flight attendants to use facial coverings while on board aircraft.

Airlines in the United States have seen a nearly 95% drop in U.S. passengers and have slashed flight schedules. They are now working to reassure customers about the safety of air travel by instituting new cleaning and social distancing procedures.

Some airline unions and U.S. lawmakers have urged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require facial coverings for all passengers and crew.

United said it will provide complimentary masks to passengers. Southwest Airlines Co <LUV.N>, one of the largest U.S. airlines, has not required facial coverings.

The FAA has declined to implement the requirement, and it is not clear if the agency has the authority to compel passengers to wear face masks. The FAA said Wednesday it is “working with air carriers to ensure they have processes in place for addressing public health risks for their crews and passengers.”

Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, called on the FAA Wednesday to “require masks or other face coverings for all crewmembers and passengers on U.S. flights” and to require airlines “adopt reasonable, sound procedures for ensuring that passengers are spaced at safe distances from one another.”

Delta said the airline will require face coverings “starting in the check-in lobby” and at “Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas, jet bridges and on board the aircraft for the duration of the flight – except during meal service.”

Delta added their use “is also strongly encouraged in high-traffic areas, including security lines and restrooms. People unable to keep a face covering in place, including children, are exempt.”

American said the rules will prioritize “customer and team member well-being.”

German airline group Lufthansa  also said this week it would require facial coverings for all passengers starting May 4.

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, praised the carriers adopting the requirements and added “absent federal action, we need every airline to require passengers wear face coverings to keep everyone safe in aviation.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Aurora Ellis)

More flights canceled after Atlanta airport’s day without power

Passengers walk through the newly opened Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia May 16, 2012.

(Reuters) – Hundreds of flights were canceled into and out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Monday, a day after a paralyzing 11-hour power outage at the world’s busiest airport left passengers marooned on airplanes idling on the tarmac.

More than 400 planned flights to or from Atlanta were scrapped and another 86 were delayed, according to the FlightAware tracking service.

The airport lost power on Sunday morning after what Georgia Power believes was an equipment failure and subsequent fire in an underground electrical facility. Power for essential activities was restored by 11.45 p.m., the utility company said.

By then, miserable would-be passengers had posted pictures and videos that were widely shared online of their confinement inside planes stuck outside darkened terminals as boredom and hunger mounted. They were all disembarked safely by about 10 p.m., nine hours after the outage began. More than 1,100 flights were canceled on Sunday.

Officials at the airport, which is run by the city of Atlanta, sought to mollify customers on Sunday with thousands of free meals, water and parking spots as power began to return.

While some stranded travelers found rooms in hotels, city authorities also provided shelter at the Georgia International Convention Center.

Delta said customers whose travel was disrupted could make a one-time change to travel plans within certain guidelines. Other airlines also offered waivers for flight changes. Delta said its flight schedule in Atlanta was expected to return to normal by Monday afternoon.

More than 100 million trips and connections began or ended at the airport in 2015, according to Airports Council International.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Delta to cancel about 800 flights due to Irma

Empty runways and gates are see at Miami International Airport after Hurricane Irma strikes Florida, in Miami, U.S. September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

(Reuters) – Delta Air Lines Inc said it would cancel about 800 flights on Monday as it braces for Tropical Storm Irma at its Atlanta hub.

“Hurricane Irma is expected to bring to the Atlanta hub strong crosswinds that exceed operating limits on select mainline and regional aircraft,” Delta said on Monday.

The No. 2 U.S. airline by passenger traffic, whose business is heavily dependent on operations at the Atlanta airport, said it was planning to resume service to airports in Florida.

Irma, ranked as one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, hit a wide swath of Florida over the past day. It is now a tropical storm with sustained winds of up to 70 miles per hour (110 km per hour).

Bigger rival American Airlines Group Inc said on Sunday it would not resume commercial flights at its Miami International Airport hub on Monday, but may operate flights to bring in staff and supplies.


(Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)


Delta cancels hundreds more flights, expects normal operations soon

Passengers check in at a counter of Delta Air Lines in Mexico City, Mexico, August 8, 2016.

(Reuters) – Delta Air Lines Inc on Wednesday canceled more than 250 flights and upended thousands of travelers’ plans for the third day in a row after a power outage hit its computer systems, though it forecast a return to normal operations later this afternoon.

Delta, the No. 2 U.S. airline by passenger traffic, said systems that allow customer service agents to process check-ins and dispatch aircraft are now functioning normally. Most of Wednesday’s delays and cancellations are the result of flight crews being displaced or running up against maximum allowed work hours, it said.

As of 12:30 p.m. EDT, Delta said it had canceled 278 flights on the day, adding to the more than 1,600 cancellations since Monday. Another 1,950 flights departed on Wednesday, with 75 percent of them within 30 minutes of their scheduled times, the airline said.

“We’re in the final hours of bouncing back from the disruption,” Bill Lentsch, Delta’s senior vice president for airport customer service and airline operations, said in an online posting.

The travel havoc at one of the world’s largest carriers has brought into focus the vulnerability of airlines’ technology infrastructure. Experts say mergers – and sometimes insufficient investment in back-end technology – have left airlines with a hodgepodge of systems.

What is more, a drive by companies to automate operations, from mobile boarding passes to check-in kiosks, means the impact of any single glitch will multiply.

Delta said problems arose when critical systems did not switch over to a backup source following a power surge and outage on Monday.

The airline is still investigating the cause, Chief Executive Ed Bastian said in an online video post, adding that the company has invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” in infrastructure upgrades and backup systems.

“I’m sorry we let you down. We’ll do everything that we can to make certain this does not happen again,” Bastian said in the video.

“There have been no indications of a hack,” Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter added in an emailed statement.

Shares were down 1.5 percent at $36.40 in mid-afternoon trading.


Frustrated fliers like Camille Davies-Mandel of Maplewood, New Jersey still faced multihour waits at airport lines on Wednesday.

“I have two kids with me, looking forward to getting to their cousins so they can seek out (characters) in Pokemon Go,” she said in a telephone interview after waiting three hours to check in at Newark Liberty International Airport. She was unable to download a boarding pass online and missed her flight.

Davies-Mandel said she appreciated Delta’s outreach on social media and messages from management, but she added “when you get on the phone and you deal with their customer service, that’s a whole different experience,” noting two calls took her four and a half hours.

Delta said it contacted some of its most frequent fliers who would be stuck in the disruption and offered them seats on its Delta Private Jets subsidiary to finish their journey.

Analysts expect passenger refunds, overtime hours for workers and other costs will reduce Delta’s profit this quarter. Daniel McKenzie, an analyst with the Buckingham Research Group said in a research note that earnings per share may be 5 percent to 10 percent lower, or 10 to 15 cents per share, lower than his than his prior estimate.

“Delta still remains the best operation in the industry by a wide margin,” McKenzie said, noting that the airline had canceled far fewer flights than rivals in recent years.

Other carriers have also suffered from technology issues.

Southwest Airlines Co forecast on Wednesday a further drop in a key profitability metric for the quarter due to delays and cancellations of more than 2,000 flights after an outage hit its computer systems in July.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin, additional reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; editing by Maju Samuel and G Crossa)









Delta Air Lines to cancel nearly 300 flights on Tuesday

Members of the mission group Adventures In Missions wait to find out if their flight to Guatemala is on time or cancelled after Delta Air Lines' computer systems crashed on Monday, grounding flights around the globe, at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

(Reuters) – Delta Air Lines  said it was canceling some 300 flights on Tuesday morning, higher than an earlier estimate of 250, as the carrier worked to restore operations after a power outage hit its computer systems on Monday.

The company, which has not yet given details about the financial impact of the outage, said it expected additional delays and cancellations.

The airline canceled around 1,000 flights on Monday, stranding passengers at airports around the globe.

“We were able to bring our systems back on line and resume flights within a few hours yesterday but we are still operating in recovery mode,” Delta, the No.2 U.S. airline by passenger traffic, said on Tuesday.

Customers traveling on Tuesday should check the status of their flight at or the Fly Delta App, the company said.

Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian apologized to customers on a video posted on the company’s website and said the company was working round the clock to restore its systems.

The problems arose after a switchgear – which helps control and switch power flows like a circuit breaker in a home – malfunctioned for reasons that were not immediately clear, according to Georgia Power, a unit of Southern Co, which provides electricity to most counties in Georgia.

Atlanta-based Delta said it would offer compensation to customers affected by significant delays or cancellations. The company said it would provide $200 in travel vouchers to all customers who experienced a delay of greater than three hours or a canceled flight.

Delta shares were little changed at $37.75 in premarket trading on Tuesday.

Rivals Southwest Airlines Co &lt;LUV.N&gt; and American Airlines Group Inc &lt;AAL.O&gt; have also suffered flight disruptions earlier due to data system malfunctions.

(Reporting by Rachit Vats and Sayantani Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

Delta flights resume after computer crash strands passengers

elta airline name tags are seen at Delta terminal in JFK Airport in New York

(Reuters) – Delta Air Lines flights gradually began taking off again on Monday after computer systems crashed, causing planes to be grounded and leaving passengers of one of the world’s largest carriers stranded at airports around the globe.

The U.S. airline said the problems resulted from a power outage in Atlanta overnight and that customers should expect “large-scale” cancellations.

Delta said in an update at 8:40 a.m. EDT (1240 GMT) that a halt on departures had been lifted and some flights were resuming.

“Customers heading to the airport should expect delays and cancellations,” it added.

Website Flightradar24 showed a flight from Phoenix to Atlanta had taken off, while three planes had departed from Amsterdam to U.S. destinations.

The problems also meant flight information was not showing correctly on Delta’s website or on airport information boards, and this could also take time to resolve, the carrier said in the latest update.

Delta operates 5,000 departures a day and is a member of the SkyTeam alliance alongside airlines including Air France.

It also partners for transatlantic flights with Virgin Atlantic, which said its flights were operating normally but cautioned that passengers should check tickets in case their flight was due to be operated by Delta as part of a code-share agreement.

Delta said the computer outage began at about 2:30 a.m. EDT (0630 GMT).

Its shares were down 1.1 percent at $37.25 in premarket trading.

In airports across the world, passengers stuck in check-in queues or on planes waiting to depart took to Twitter to share photos and frustration at the delays.

“1 hr.+ lines @HeathrowAirport for @Delta due to system outage,” tweeted user @MITJAKE with a picture of passengers waiting to check in.

The glitch follows several high-profile computer problems faced by U.S. airlines in the past year.

Budget carrier Southwest Airlines Co had to halt departures last month after a technical outage, while American Airlines had to suspend flights from three of its hubs last September after technical problems.

Industry consultants say airlines face an increasing risk from computer disruptions as they automate more of their operations, distribute boarding passes on smartphones and fit their planes with Wi-Fi.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sarah Young in London; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)