All Delta employees and passengers will be required to wear face masks at airports and onboard flights starting May 4 to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) said it would add the extra layer of protection to align with CDC guidelines. It follows the airline’s announcement last week to require employees worldwide to wear face masks if they were unable to maintain six feet of distance with customers or each other.
“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our people and our customers,” said Bill Lentsch, chief customer experience officer, in a news release. “While we remain committed to our new standard of clean and to providing more space for our customers when they travel, we take seriously the CDC guidelines for adding this extra layer of protection. We believe this change will give customers and employees some additional comfort when traveling with us.”
Delta’s move comes alongside major airlines like Chicago-based United Air Lines (Nasdaq: UAL), and will be mimicked by Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK) and Horizon Air starting May 11.
Delta said it will require face coverings starting in the check-in lobby and across airline touchpoints including Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas, jet bridges and on board the aircraft for the duration of the flight – except during meal service. 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.
Delta encourages passengers to bring their own face covering but supplies will be available those who need them.
Beyond face mask requirements, Delta has implemented multiple new safety protocols over the last few months, such as blocking the middle seats and reducing the number of passengers on each flight.
The airline, which said its network schedule is 85% smaller for the second quarter of 2020 than the same period last year, released the following May travel schedule out of its Atlanta hub.
- Will continue to. fly to all U.S. hubs and top markets, though frequency is significantly reduced.
Latin America & Caribbean:
- Atlanta to St. Croix (Saturday only)
- Atlanta to St. Thomas (less than daily)
- Atlanta to San Juan, Puerto Rico (less than daily)
- Atlanta to Guatemala City, Guatemala (less than daily)
- Atlanta to San José, Costa Rica (less than daily)
- Atlanta to San Pedro Sula, Honduras (less than daily)
- Atlanta to San Salvador, El Salvador (less than daily)
- Atlanta to Mexico City (less than daily)
- Atlanta to Lima, Peru (less than daily)
- Atlanta to Amsterdam (daily)
- Atlanta to Paris-Charles De Gaulle (less than daily)
Delta also operates cargo-only flights between Incheon and Shanghai to Atlanta.
In a published memo to employees on April 30, CEO Ed Bastian said the airline “received a vote of confidence” in the airline’s future when it raised $5 billion in new financing — meaning he expects to end the June quarter with more than $12 billion in cash.
“It reflects lenders’ belief that Delta and our business will return to a position of strength when the nation begins to recover,” he wrote.
Delta also submitted an application for $4.6 billion in loans available to airlines under the CARES Act.
“We have until September to decide whether to accept the funding and will only move forward if we need to add to our cash position later in the year,” he wrote.
Delta said its cash burn is currently at $50 million per day, or roughly $5 billion during the June quarter, which is why the airline has eliminated more than 50% of its total operating costs.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffet, said last week his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate sold the entirety of its more than $4 billion equity position in the U.S. airline industry, which reportedly included 51.3 million shares of Delta.