On CNBC Tuesday morning, Delta CEO Ed Bastian commented on his airline’s rules when it comes to facemasks, saying that “masks are really important.”
The comments came as a number of airlines were criticized recently for not enforcing mask policies and for doing away with social distancing measures, including booking middle seats, onboard flights.
“They’re important not just on air travel, they’re important in any kind of interaction around the public,” he said. “On Delta, we are enforcing masks. You cannot board an airplane on Delta unless you have a mask on and if you get on the plane and decide that you’re not going to wear the mask we ask you kindly to put it back on,” he added.
“If you insist upon not wearing the mask, we’re going to insist on you not traveling on Delta in the future.”
Delta recently released its second quarter results, which Bastian called the “worst quarter in the company’s history” as demand for travel has dropped significantly because of the impact of COVID-19. Bastian said on Tuesday that despite the major drop in demand and in Delta’s revenue, “our goal, if we can…is not to have any furloughs in the company and I think we have a shot at that.”
Bastian said close to 20% of Delta employees did take a voluntary early retirement offer from the airline, and others have taken voluntary leave of absences.
One of the bigger questions for Delta, and for the rest of the airline industry, is how large carriers will be coming out of the COVID-19 crisis. All carriers have been forced to cut routes because of the travel demand. Through April, Delta was at about 5% of its normal passenger volume, and Bastian expects that to increase to somewhere between 20% and 25% of normal summer activities.
“The size of the airline is still a question mark. We won’t know that for another couple of years…we are preparing to be a smaller airline over the course of the next couple years,” Bastian said.
In addition to the mask policy and blocking middle seats, which the carrier said will be enforced through Sept. 30, Delta this week once again extended its change fee waiver for new flights purchased through July 31, giving customers the opportunity to change their plans without a fee for a year from the date of purchase.
Those who booked travel between April 17 and Sept. 30, 2020, will be able to rebook through Sept. 30, 2022.