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Delta reports $15.6bn loss for financial 2020

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Delta Air Lines has reported a pre-tax loss of $15.6 billion for financial 2020, representing a loss per share of $19.49 on total revenue of $17.1 billion.

In the December quarter alone, the carrier saw pre-tax losses of $1.1 billion.

“Our December quarter results capped the toughest year in Delta’s history,” said Ed Bastian, Delta chief executive.

“While our challenges continue in 2021, I am optimistic this will be a year of recovery and a turning point that results in an even stronger Delta returning to revenue growth, profitability and free cash generation.”

Total operating expenses at Delta, which included $4.3 billion of Covid-19 related and other items, decreased $10.8 billion in 2020 over the prior year. 

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However, the carrier said it ended the December quarter with $16.7 billion in liquidity. 

Cash used in operations during the quarter was $1.3 billion. 

Daily cash burn averaged $12 million for the quarter, down from $24 million per day in the September quarter.

“We reduced our average daily cash burn to $12 million in the December quarter, a reduction of nearly 90 per cent since the early days of the pandemic in March, as we progress to achieving cash breakeven in the spring,” said Gary Chase, Delta interim co-chief financial officer. 

“Remaining agile and disciplined with our cost structure will be key to our success, and when combined with an improving demand environment, will allow us to return to the free cash flow generation needed for debt reduction.”

Looking ahead, Delta president Glen Hauenstein echoed chief executive Bastian in arguing this would be a year of recovery.

He added: “We see three distinct phases in 2021. 

“The early part of the year will be characterised by choppy demand recovery and a booking curve that remains compressed, followed by an inflection point, and finally a sustained demand recovery as customer confidence gains momentum, vaccinations become widespread and offices re-open.

“For each phase, Delta has the levers to pull to successfully react to the emerging demand environment, including tightly matching our sellable capacity to expected demand.”

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