Major US carrier, Delta Air Lines, continues to fine-tune its schedule following surges of COVID-19 that have once more slowed demand for air travel. As a result, the airline will operate only 30% of its international services in August.
Flight schedules across the world continue to remain stunted as the pandemic shows no signs of abating in most locations. While Europe still sees the virus spread in more localized clusters, travel has more or less opened back up across the continent, with a few exceptions. However, cases in the US and Latin America continue to soar, and the tentative signs of air travel recovery evident in June have once more abated.
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Conservative approach to rebuilding
Thus, it is very unclear when Americans will once more travel abroad, be that from a lack of desire, or from restrictions prohibiting them from entering other countries. So it comes as no surprise that carriers such as Delta Air Lines will operate a mere 30% of its usual international schedule in August.
“Since the pandemic’s start, we’ve taken a conservative approach to rebuilding our network amid fluctuating demand,” said Joe Esposito, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Network Planning in a statement seen by Simple Flying.
Some key European routes resuming
However, the carrier does intend to resume some key services that have been suspended. The reinstated transatlantic services are to Dublin, Milan, Munich, and Stuttgart. These will join Delta’s current European operations to Paris CDG, London Heathrow, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam.
The only South American destination returning to Delta’s schedule in August is São Paulo. In the Caribbean, the carrier will instead cut routes to the Bahamas and Antigua for the month, while maintaining services to several other destinations from July.
The only flights the airline is operating to Asia throughout September are to Shanghai, Tokyo Haneda, and Seoul Incheon. Furthermore, Delta is maintaining services to Sydney in Australia, Dakar in Senegal, and Tel Aviv in Israel.
50% of domestic flights
The domestic service schedule will fare slightly better. Delta will operate about 50% of its US schedule to almost all of its network destinations. However, Flint, Peoria, Lincoln, Williston, Santa Barbara, and Aspen will be cut. Chicago, San Fransisco, and Tuscon will remain off the schedule until at least September.
Middle seats and masks
Delta Air Lines is one of the few US carriers to still implement the empty-middle-seat policy. Currently, the carrier is capping load factors at 60%, but this could be extended further. Its CEO Ed Bastian expects that his airline could keep blocking them beyond September. Furthermore, it is now automatically blocking adjacent seats when reservations are completed.
Delta also requires passengers to wear face masks at all touchpoints at the airport, such as check-in, and while on board aircraft. Only people who have been cleared by an independent medical examiner may be exempt from the requirement, and over 100 people have already been banned from Delta’s flights for failing to comply.