Delta CEO Explains Why Travelers Can Fly With Confidence

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian believes travelers can “fly with confidence” right now.

In a recent appearance on the “Conversations with Mike Milken” podcast, Bastian outlined all of the ways that the airline is working to ensure passenger safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“In my opinion, consumers can fly with confidence and safety today,” Bastian told the Milken Institute founder in an interview recorded on May 21 that aired on June 4. “In fact, we are flying currently 45,000 to 50,000 customers a day on our network. We have taken extraordinary measures to improve the overall quality of the experience.”

Like most carriers, Delta is requiring masks, stepping up cleaning efforts and finding ways to keep passengers safely distanced from one another.

On Wednesday, the airline also announced the launch of its first Global Cleanliness division, a new department within Delta’s Customer Experience organization led by Mike Medeiros, vice president – Global Cleanliness, that will be dedicated to innovating and evolving the airline’s cleanliness standards.

“The planes are sanitized. They are fogged before every flight. We have cap[acity] load factors at 60 percent to provide for distance or space onboard our planes, and we’ve made that a hard commitment. We board from the back to the front so people don’t need to worry about passing in front of people. We’ve really adjusted a lot of the amenities and we’re requiring masks on board our planes,” added Bastian.

“We are taking the same measures towards the personal safety of our customers onboard our planes, just as we do the flight safety of the experience. Multi, multi-layers of protection for the safety of the flight and multi, multi-layers of protection for the safety of the customer.”

Bastian pointed to Delta’s cap on load factor as one example of prioritization of customer safety.

“When you think about safety, when you think about an experience, when you think about the company, most of the airlines have not taken this step that we have to cap load factors that 60 percent,” he said. “Those are statements that will define this period of time in consumer’s minds: who was willing to make the sacrifice?”

“There’s great incentive to put more people on the plane as you know,” added Bastian. “But we’ve made the conscious decision not to, and to bring more planes back rather than have people jeopardize the concern as to their safety onboard a plane.”

Bastian acknowledged that the airline industry’s recovery will be daunting and stressed the importance of customers coming away with a positive experience that they can share with others who may be unsure about returning to air travel in the near future in speeding up the process.

“It’s difficult for the airlines to come out and tell consumers to fly, that it’s safe. There’s going to have to be an awful lot of word of mouth and people are going to have to be discussing it, and we know they are, to try to get people confidence back in the experience,” he told Milken.

Click here to listen to the conversation in its entirety or click here to read a complete transcript of the interview.

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