MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Delta Air Lines posted its third quarter earnings Tuesday, recording billions of lost dollars during what would normally be a busy travel season.

The president of the company also said it could be “two years or more” until Delta sees a “normalized revenue environment.”

The air line said their net loss was $5.4 billion in the third quarter, compared to a $1.5 billion income in 2019. In the second quarter, Delta had lost $5.7 billion.  Though COVID-19 has impacted the peak summer travel months, CEO Ed Bastian indicated some customers are returning to travel.

“While our September quarter results demonstrate the magnitude of the pandemic on our business, we have been encouraged as more customers travel and we are seeing a path of progressive improvement in our revenues, financial results and daily cash burn,” he said.

Total revenue for the company was down 76% from the year before. However, cash burn has improved over the past months, dropping from $27 million a day in June to $18 million in September.

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During the second quarter, Delta said 17,000 employees took early retirement. That number has increased in the third quarter, with 18,000 additional employees taking early retirement by Aug. 1, resulting in $3.1 billion in restructuring charges. In order to cut costs, Delta has also retired aircrafts and reduced aircraft purchasing commitments for the coming years.

“With a slow and steady build in demand, we are restoring flying to meet our customer’s needs, while staying nimble with our capacity in light of COVId-19,” said Delta’s president Glen Hauenstein. “By restoring customer confidence in travel and building customer loyalty now, we are creating the foundation for sustainable future revenue growth.”

At the end of September, Delta announced the return of the first long-haul flight out of MSP airport since March. The transatlantic flight from the Twin Cities to Amsterdam will resume on Oct. 25.

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