Rich Uncle Pennybags Bastian has warned of “furloughs in the tens of thousands” without more help from the federal government for the U.S. airline industry. Joining the Kirby Khorus, Bastian is firmly behind another taxpayer-funded bailout for Delta and other U.S. airlines, insisting it is necessary to avoid catastrophic job losses.
Delta CEO: Catastrophic Job Losses Without Another Bailout
In early July, I warned that Delta CEO Bastian was hinting strongly at a second bailout for Delta and U.S. airlines. Sure enough, Bastian is now publicly and firmly in support of another payroll support package.
Speaking on Fox News, Bastian warned:
“If we do not get the support that we need, I know within the industry there will be furloughs and probably some pretty large numbers of furloughs in the tens of thousands of employees.”
Ooohhhh…tens of thousands of job losses right before an election?! Give Bastian credit for knowing how to work the system.
Of course Bastian is hopeful that employees will quit anyway:
“If we can keep using good voluntary measures to get through this, we can mitigate furloughs but its probably hard to say for sure that we’ll be able to do that completely.”
Isn’t this one reason precisely why an additional bailout of $25 billion is not needed? 20% of the Delta workforce already quit last week…pay has already been slashed for thousands of others through reduced hours.
Like Sara Nelson did last week, Bastian invokes the “essential” language and also adds the “too big too fail” argument.
“There’s been a lot of support, all the way up through the president, to considering extending the relief for the airlines to get through the next six months in turn for agreeing to continue to keep those workers in place because we know airlines are going to be essential to the recovery of our economy. Our country is too large, we’re connected through transportation systems given our scale in size in how we operate, particularly our businesses, and keeping the employees in place will allow us to keep businesses in place that will get them moving as soon as they’re ready.”
Per Bastian, “our country” (USA) is too large for Delta to fail.
Bastian: It’s All About Making Passengers Feel Safe
Delta continues to block middle seats and Bastian credits that as key in restoring consumer confidence:
“Our top priority as we’ve gone through the pandemic is to restore confidence in consumer travel and their travel behaviors and we believe distance on board the plane, having that middle seat open, having that seat next to you vacant is an important factor in not just the comfort of the flight but also the safety of the flight. We want consumers to feel as confident as they do already with us in their flight safety as compared to their personal safety.”
He also correctly notes that Delta must do more than provide lip service: it must actually deliver cleaning protocols that work:
“There’s certainly, the first time back, there is some apprehension as people get back into the environment. But more and more people as they take that second, third and fourth trip, they’re telling us that we’re doing a great job. And it’s a discerning customer, it’s someone that they’re watching to make certain that we’re implementing all the protocols that we tell the people we’re doing and our team is doing a great job of that.”
Bastian is still hoping demand will come roaring back once a vaccine is in place:
“When that vaccine is in place, and there will be a series of vaccines hopefully over the course of the next 6 to 12 months, we’re going to see travel come back at a meaningful level. I think it’s going to take two to three years to get consumer behaviors back, but we do know there is a tremendous amount of pent up demand for transportation, for travel, for mobility and we’re ready to serve customers when they’re ready to go.”
I hate the scaremongering when Delta and other airlines can easily raise billions of dollars in private equity in short order. But Bastian has joined the doomsday choir, arguing strongly for another taxpayer bailout to do what Delta investors would never do themselves.