US government shutdown taking toll on Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines announces possible financial and other consequences as US government continues longest-ever government shutdown

As the US approaches one month of its partial federal government shutdown, the situation is beginning to harm the country’s economy.

For Delta Air Lines, the shutdown could mean a financial setback of up to an estimated $25 million (almost €22 million) in January, the airline’s CEO Ed Bastian said during the carrier’s fourth-quarter earnings call yesterday.

The massive financial consequences are due to a reduction in travel by federal employees and also fuelled by a cutback in leisure travel by federal officials who aren’t receiving their pay.

The longer the shutdown continues, the worse it will be for Delta — Ryan Fletcher / Shutterstock US government shutdown taking toll on Delta Air Lines
The longer the shutdown continues, the worse it will be for Delta — Ryan Fletcher / Shutterstock

According to Bastian, the figure could increase should the government shutdown continue.

The government shutdown that started on 22 December 2018 has since become the longest in the US history, having surpassed the 21-day shutdown across 1995 and 1996.

Apart from financial losses the deadlock has been causing, it will also delay Delta’s launch of the Airbus A220 in the US because Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors aren’t able to complete various certifications. The shutdown might delay the service introduction of seven new carriers.

Delta will be forced to delay the introduction of new aircraft on routes, including between Boston and New York — Shutterstock US government shutdown taking toll on Delta Air Lines
Delta will be forced to delay the introduction of new aircraft on routes, including between Boston and New York — Shutterstock

Along with the new A220, Delta said the shutdown could delay the launch of twin-aisle Airbus A330-900neos. FAA officials aren’t able to certify various components of the aircraft, including seats and the wifi system.

“We are not going to be cancelling routes or flights. We’ll just delay the introduction of that specific aircraft type,” Bastian said.

The debut of the aircraft was planned for 31 January on the routes between New York LaGuardia and Boston, and LaGuardia and Dallas / Fort Worth. The new type of plane is supposed to replace the aged Boeing 717s.