Business

Delta and Virgin Atlantic CEOs say demand is resilient

Passengers line up at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York
FILE PHOTO: Delta aircraft are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport during the spread of the Omicron variant coronavirus in Queens, New York City, U.S., December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

March 15, 2022

LONDON (Reuters) – Delta Air Lines Inc and partner Virgin Atlantic said on Tuesday demand is strong despite the conflict in Ukraine and they are currently able to pass higher fuel costs in ticket prices to customers.

“We haven’t seen an increase in cancellations,” Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said at a news conference in London, adding that last Tuesday the airline had its biggest booking day in its history.

As Bastian spoke, Delta raised its revenue guidance for the current quarter, betting on a rebound in air travel after a slump caused by Omicron.

It now expects its first-quarter adjusted revenue to come in at about 78% of pre-pandemic levels, up from 72% to 76% it had previously forecast.

Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Shai Weiss said the airline is seeing “tremendous” demand for premium leisure seats while business is making a strong return.

“There’s a very strong pricing environment right now, which makes sense given the pent-up demand but also, of course, high fuel input prices,” he said. Delta owns a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, while Richard Branson’s Virgin Group owns 51%.

Bastian said he was “not at a point of nervousness” given rising oil prices. “We were pretty successful early in the last decade when fuel was averaging over $100,” he said.

(Reporting by Kate Holton, writing by Paul Sandle, editing by William James)

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DUSTIN JONES

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