Delta to offer voluntary separations, early retirement to employees amid coronavirus pandemic, report says

Delta Air Lines will reportedly offer voluntary separations and early retirements to reduce its workforce as the company grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and its significant impacts on the airline industry.

Delta Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson announced the plan Tuesday during an investor call, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“We know at the end of the day, Delta is going to be smaller than where we were, for the next few years,” Jacobson said, according to the newspaper.

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Lockdowns and limits on travel across the world over the past few months have decimated demand for airline travel. More than 41,000 of Delta’s 90,000 employees have already taken voluntary unpaid leaves of absence, the company said.

“We hope that most of the headcount changes that we’re going to need are going to be achieved through these voluntary programs,” Jacobson said, according to the newspaper.

In a bid to help customers feel safe as they fly more routinely again, Delta will cap ticket sales at 60% of seats on a plane in order to create more space between passengers. Delta is also among several U.S. airlines with new policies requiring face coverings for passengers.

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Delta has seen “some days of positive net sales,” driven by some leisure bookings for June and July, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The airline announced last week it will retire its fleet of Boeing 777 aircraft and remove them from service by the end of the year due to the pandemic’s impact on travel demand.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.