Delta CEO Outlines 2021 Strategy

Image: PHOTO: Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian. (photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines) (Delta Air Lines Media)
Image: PHOTO: Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian. (photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines) (Delta Air Lines Media)
Rich Thomaselli
by Rich Thomaselli
Last updated: 1:40 PM ET, Sat January 2, 2021

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian sent out his latest 'Letter from Ed' on New Year's Day, this time to employees instead of loyal customers to let workers know the carrier's strategy for 2021.

"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," Bastian wrote in a note to employees. "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."

Bastian said he believes the year will be broken into two segments over 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," he wrote. "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."

Delta did not lay out its traditional Flight Plan because of the uncertainty of the virus, instead opting to lay out some principles that will help guide the airline through the months ahead.

They include protecting people above all, keeping customers happy healthy; continuing health and safety protocols already introduced in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic; and harnessing innovation and agility.

"As difficult as 2020 was, in many ways I expect the next 12 months to be even more challenging," Bastian wrote. "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."

Bastian said Delta will listen to its customers and let them lead the way, while at the same time holding to its own core values.

"As we move into the new year, please stay focused on taking care of yourselves and your loved ones," Bastian wrote. "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."

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