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Delta announces $1.2 billion first quarter loss

Delta announces $1.2 billion first quarter loss

Delta Air Lines announced losses of $1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2021, but the airline said it could be profitable by the late summer if recent trends continue.

Delta is the first U.S. airline to report its first-quarter results, The Associated Press reports, with revenue falling 60 percent compared to last year. The AP notes that this loss in revenue would have been worse without federal aid, the absence of which would have increased the losses to nearly $3 billion.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said on Thursday ticket sales in the past two weeks have been stronger than they have ever been since the pandemic began, the AP reports. Delta reportedly generated $4 million in cash per day during March.

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“It’s clear that our business is turning the corner and we’re moving into an active recovery phase,” Bastian said. “We see the business continuing to improve as consumer confidence grows.”

Bastian said that the only obstacle in Delta's "path to profitability in the September quarter” is the coronavirus.

In late March, Delta announced that it would resume selling middle seats beginning on May 1 after more than a year of blocking off those seats in an effort to provide social distancing on airplanes.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that leaving the middle seat empty could potentially lessen passengers' exposure to COVID-19. Reductions of exposure between 35 and 57 percent were observed in the study.

“We said all along we will sell those middle seats when customers are confident and comfortable sitting there, and the science has given us that confidence around the vaccinations,” Bastian said, the AP reports. “What we’re seeing now in April is our planes are pretty full, so we need to sell those middle seats.”