Delta CEO Ed Bastian spoke at length about travel demand, air travel pricing, the economy and other consumer issues in interviews with NBC, CNN and Bloomberg, emphasizing the airline’s best-in-the-industry people and products.
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Delta’s world-class team is ready to welcome more than 5 million customers over the Thanksgiving travel period, offering the best-in-the-industry service and products our airline is loved and known for, CEO Ed Bastian said.

Bastian spoke at length about Delta people, the economy and other consumer areas of interest during interviews Monday with NBC’s “Today,” CNN’s “This Morning” and Bloomberg TV’s “Balance of Power.” Read below for a rundown of some of the key topics he addressed.

TRAVEL DEMAND

Air travel has been at its peak for virtually the entire year. “After two years of customers not being able to get to the people, the places, the experiences that they really want to be at, everyone needed to get out,” Bastian said.

THANKSGIVING TRAVEL

“Do you have enough pilots, enough planes, enough customer service, a plan if the weather is bad? Are you guys ready?” asked NBC host Hoda Kotb.

“Yes, yes, yes and yes,” Bastian replied. “Delta is known for its high quality of service and the very best people in the industry, and we’re ready.”

In the months leading up to Thanksgiving – September, October and November to date – Delta has completed over 99% of scheduled flights.

AIR TRAVEL PRICING

Fuel prices are up 50% over where they were in 2019. “That’s our single biggest cost – it’s not even people, it’s fuel prices,” Bastian said.

Another factor in pricing is network capacity, which is still down about 15% compared with pre-pandemic levels. However, that capacity is expected to be restored by the end of summer 2023, which should ease pricing pressures, he said.

CONCERNS ABOUT ECONOMIC RECESSION

“We’ve had our recession the past two years,” Bastian said. “Our business was cut off at the knees.” Delta is has hired 25,000 people since the beginning of last year and is continuing to hire to meet surging customer demand, driven by the desire to connect with the world post-pandemic.

SEAT SIZES

“We haven’t changed the seat size or the pitch in many, many years,” Bastian said when asked about consumer concerns about shrinking seat sizes and legroom. In fact, he said, Delta has increased its offerings of more spacious seating options with the ongoing expansion of its Delta Comfort+, Delta Premium Select and Delta One products.
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