March 9, 2021

The aviation market: what future?

Exclusive Interview: Ed Bastian – CEO – Delta Airlines

With the airline industry taking a major hit from the Covid crisis, today sees an ITB CEO Interview with Ed Bastian as part of the virtual convention. To get a foretaste of what we’ll see in his talk, we asked him how he sees the market evolving in the short to midterm.

We’re confident that Delta will emerge stronger than ever once we get on the other side of the pandemic. That said, we’re taking a nimble approach and viewing market recovery in three phases. In the first one, we expect demand choppiness to continue and the booking curve to remain more compressed. Core to the second phase is vaccinations becoming more widely available, travel restrictions and advisories easing up, and customer confidence in travel growing. As these things happen, we expect to see an extension of the booking curve, resulting in a cash-led recovery with revenue recovery to follow at some point in the spring. In the final phase, which we anticipate in the second half of 2021, vaccinations become more widespread, offices begin to re-open and the world begins to experience some form of normality. Once our customers and people regain confidence in public life and make plans to travel, we’ll see a sustained improvement in demand.

Delta has a long-standing commitment to sustainable air travel because we believe it’s our responsibility to leave the world better than we found it.

Do you believe there will be permanent changes to customer behaviour after the crisis?
Technology has served us well over the past year, giving us more opportunities to connect with one another during a time when being physically together was not an option. But as I’ve always believed, relationships aren’t formed through the phone. Not only does our economy depend on physical connection, we as human beings need it to thrive. We know even after we defeat the pandemic and people return to travel, things will look different. Just as security became a heightened focus following 9/11, we expect customers will continue to hold health safety in high regard, showing loyalty to companies who prioritise their well-being. This is a good thing, and it’s the reason we created a Global Cleanliness Division at Delta and hired our first Chief Health Officer – our focus on health is not a temporary solve, but a long-term commitment to better care for our customers, our employees and communities we serve.

How will the new US administration affect such things as sustainability in aviation, and how does that reflect on Delta?
We are committed to becoming carbon neutral from last March onward with a strategy that balances immediate actions and long-term investments. Even as we’ve faced challenges amid the pandemic, Delta is investing in carbon neutrality –  the pandemic has only intensified our focus on being a responsible steward of our planet. We’re hopeful the new administration will prioritise and expand upon the development of sustainable technologies because it will require all of us, working together, if we want to leave the world better for future generations.

Ed Bastian – thoughts on ITB Berlin NOW
“In this new normal, we can’t always meet face-to-face, but it’s important to stay connected to our customers and partners. Nothing beats human interaction, but technology has provided us with the ability to meet until we can all be together again – which I’m hopeful will be sooner than later.”

ITB CEO Interview:
The Future of the US and Global Aviation Market
Tuesday, 9 March 2021
12:00 – 12:15
ITB Berlin NOW Convention Stage 1

Photo: Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta