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US airlines see 'glimmers of hope' as bookings improve

US airlines see 'glimmers of hope' as bookings improve

Delta Airlines pre-flight cleaning crew members work on an aircraft at JFK International Airport in New York, U.S., August 6, 2020. Picture August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

WASHINGTON: US airlines said on Monday (Mar 15) that leisure bookings are rising and offered some of the first concrete signs that the worst may be over for the sector since the coronavirus pandemic ground air travel to a near halt a year ago.

Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways each said first-quarter revenue would decline at the low end or less than previously forecast as vaccine rollouts accelerate and more people plan vacations or visits to friends and relatives

Speaking at a JP Morgan conference, Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian said there are "real glimmers of hope".

Bastian said he was "cautiously optimistic" that the airline could halt its cash burn this spring and that it would use cash for aircraft purchases in the second quarter.

READ: SIA Group's passenger carriage down 96.6% but 'calibrated expansion' expected in coming months

More than 1.3 million passengers were screened in US airports on Friday and Sunday, according to Transportation Security Administration data, the highest number since the pandemic crushed air travel in 2020.

Delta expects its first-quarter revenue decline to be at the low end of its forecast for a 60 to 65 per cent decline from the same quarter in 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.

Southwest forecast lower cash burn in the first quarter on Monday and a lower decline in operating revenue for February and March than previously forecast.

JetBlue also forecast a slowing pace in its first-quarter revenue drop, projecting a decline of between 61 and 64 per cent, compared with the same period in 2019. It had previously forecast a 65 to 70 per cent fall in revenue. 

Source: Reuters

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