Delta posts first annual loss in 11 years

Delta Air Lines posted its first annual loss in 11 years Thursday, but the carrier sees business picking up in the second half of this year.

CEO Ed Bastian told Reuters it expects 2021 will be “the year of recovery” that’ll hinge on factors such as the pace of vaccine rollouts and people’s appetite for flying. He said the carrier expects summer travel will show “meaningful improvement” – good enough to drive profitability in the second half of the year. That’s when he also expects business travel to pick up. But a recovery in international travel could take at least another year.

Delta’s outlook sent its shares up more than 4% in early trading Thursday.

But the near term could be rocky after the carrier lost more than $12 billion last year. The airline sees its actual flight capacity falling by more than half as it continues to block middle seats until the end of March. Delta, which lost an average of $12 million a day in the last three months,expects revenue to fall by up to 65% in the first quarter.

Video Transcript

- Delta Airlines posted its first annual loss in 11 years Thursday. But the carrier sees business picking up in the second half of this year. CEO Ed Bastian told Reuters it expects 2021 will be the "year of recovery" that will hinge on factors, such as the pace of vaccine rollouts and people's appetite for flying.

He said the carrier expects summer travel will show meaningful improvement, good enough to drive profitability in the second half of the year. That's when he also expects business travel to pick up. But a recovery in international travel could take at least another year.

Delta's outlook sent its shares up more than 4% in early trading Thursday. But the near term could be rocky, after the carrier posted a loss of more than $12 billion last year. The airline sees its actual flight capacity falling by more than half as it continues to block middle seats until the end of March. Delta, which lost an average of $12 million a day in the last three months, expects revenue to fall by up to 65% in the first quarter.