Delta is parking half of its fleet as coronavirus slams the airline industry, while executives take a pay cut and 10,000 other employees go on unpaid leave

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Delta is parking half of its fleet as coronavirus slams the airline industry, while executives take a pay cut and 10,000 other employees go on unpaid leave

Delta CEO Ed Bastian

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  • On Wednesday, Delta Air Lines announced several drastic measures to cut costs as the novel coronavirus ravages airlines worldwide.
  • Roughly 10,000 employees are taking unpaid leave, CEO Ed Bastian said, while Bastian and the company's board have cut their own salaries to zero for the next six months.
  • The company is also parking "at least" half of its fleet, retiring older airplanes, and closing lounges in an effort to cut costs.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Delta Air Lines is taking unprecedented measures, including parking at least half of its planes and sending 10,000 employees on unpaid leave, in order to cut costs as the spreading coronavirus wreaks havoc on the industry.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared the news in a memo to all staff on Wednesday, which was also disclosed in a regulatory filing. As part of the plan, Bastian cut his own salary to zero over the next six months alongside the company's board. Other officers will take a 50% cut through June 30.

"Following the national emergency that was declared by the U.S. President, demand for travel has dropped significantly," he said in the memo, noting that Delta's March revenue is expected to be $2 billion less than the same month in 2019. "Therefore, we will continue to make significant capacity reductions with a 70 percent systemwide pullback planned until demand starts to recover."

In addition to the thousands of employees taking voluntary unpaid leave, Delta said it would park "at least" half of its active fleet - more than 600 aircraft - while accelerating the retirement of old planes and closing most of its Delta Sky Club airport lounges.

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While Delta looks to secure "more than $4 billion in cash savings in the June quarter alone," it's also actively courting federal assistance alongside industry peers. Earlier this week, a trade group of airlines proposed a more than $50 billion bailout that would include some $29 billion in grants and another $25 billion in loan guarantees. Some members of congress have called on any bailout to include stipulations on executive pay and stock buybacks.

Shares of Delta were down more than 35% in trading on Wednesday, far outpacing the market's wider selloff. The stock is down more than 60% since the start of the year.

"We are having constructive discussions with the White House and Congress, and remain optimistic that our industry will receive support to help address this crisis," Bastian said in the memo. "That said, we have to continue to take all necessary self-help measures. Cash preservation remains our top financial priority right now. Making swift decisions now to reduce the losses and preserve cash will provide us the resources to rebound from the other side of this crisis and protect Delta's future."

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