Ed Bastian to Delta Colleagues Worldwide
The start of the new year is always an exciting time at Delta, as we set ambitious goals and make plans to achieve them. It’s an opportunity to chart the course for another year in which we will keep climbing on our journey to serve our customers, colleagues and communities while connecting the world around us.
The beginning of 2021 is no different. Once again, we have ambitious goals for the next 12 months, and they are centered around our core values: taking care of our people and our customers. While I am optimistic this will be a year of recovery, the continued uncertainty of the pandemic means we’ll need to be nimble, ready to adjust our course and adapt to an ever-changing environment.
It’s likely that we’ll experience two distinct phases during the next 12 months. The first will look a lot like 2020, with travel demand deeply depressed and our focus on ensuring the health and safety of our people and customers. The second phase will begin only when we reach a turning point with widely available vaccinations that spur a significant return to travel, particularly business travel. We continue to expect that we will achieve positive cash flow by the spring.
Because of the uncertainty ahead of us, we are not unveiling a traditional Flight Plan today. Instead, I want to outline some guiding principles that will drive our decisions in the months ahead.
Protecting people above all. While we have high hopes that vaccinations will tame the virus this year, we also know that the next few months may be the most difficult yet. Cases continue to rise amid the winter weather, and COVID-related deaths are tragically at an all-time high. Keeping our people, our customers and our communities safe has never been more important. Our health and safety protocols, developed in collaboration with partners like the medical experts at Mayo Clinic, will continue to focus on masks, regular testing, self-assessments for symptoms, social distancing and cleaning to help stop the spread and save lives.
Harnessing innovation and agility. As difficult as 2020 was, in many ways I expect the next 12 months to be even more challenging. Just as we’ve never experienced a global pandemic in our history, we’ve also never had to create and execute a plan for recovery from one. We will be building a new Delta centered on a medical and economic recovery that hasn’t yet taken shape. While our long history has taught us much, our success will depend on our collaboration, our willingness to be open to new ideas, our ability to adapt and our humility in recognizing that we won’t always know the answers.
Customers leading the way. Listening to our customers and acting on their feedback has always been central to our business model, and it will be essential this year as we begin to rebuild. Our mission of connecting the world has been reaffirmed by the events of the past year, but we don’t yet know what travel demand is going to look like when it rebounds. We need to be nimble as consumers make the path forward clear. Simply re-creating the Delta from 2019 won’t be an option; our customers will give us the blueprint for the Delta of 2021 and beyond.
Living our values. We must never lose sight of the greater purpose that drives us. Delta’s commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral airline continues to be a top priority, and our $1 billion, 10-year investment in sustainable technology and practices remains intact. Likewise, our focus on becoming a racially just and equitable organization will be front and center this year, as will our efforts to strengthen the communities where we live, work and serve. Even amid the pandemic, our shared values require us to continue to battle inequity, economic disparity and climate change.
While the immediate future remains cloudy, we’ve been well-served by our response in 2020 and our focus on protecting people, building our cash reserves and working to safeguard our future. No airline is better positioned than Delta to emerge stronger from this crisis and lead our industry in the years ahead. I believe we will see 2021 as a turning point that results in an even stronger, customer-focused and successful Delta that will connect the world for generations to come.
As we move into the new year, please stay focused on taking care of yourselves and your loved ones. With the promise of successful vaccines on the horizon, it can be tempting to let our guard down, which makes this point in time particularly dangerous. By wearing your masks, getting tested regularly and following safety procedures, we’ll continue to protect our families and communities in what we all hope will be the final months of the pandemic. And, as always, we can never let our commitment to operational and flight safety waver.
I know how difficult 2020 has been, and I can’t express just how much I appreciate the sacrifices and dedication of our people. Your passion, professionalism and hard work have positioned Delta to successfully lead our industry into recovery in 2021.
I wish you and your loved ones a safe, joy-filled new year.