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Old 12-04-2007, 07:03 AM   #1  
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Default Delta CEO says job cuts, freezes on horizon

It appears that DL is taking some unfavorable but necessary steps to stem losses and deal with fuel costs. Comments?

Airline tightens belt to offset fuel prices

By RUSSELL GRANTHAM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 12/04/07

Delta Air Lines plans some job cuts, a partial hiring freeze, fleet reductions and other steps to cut capacity in response to high fuel costs, the carrier's president said Tuesday.

Delta President Ed Bastian said the carrier has set a "$400 million productivity target" for next year to offset jet fuel costs that have soared in tandem with near-record crude oil prices, which reached almost $100 a barrel in recent weeks.

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"We are pulling down domestic supply considerably," Bastian said during a Web cast of an investors conference.

In updated guidance to investors, Bastian said Delta now expects its operating profit margins in the final three months of the year to be flat or down 2 percent as a result of high fuel prices. The carrier had earlier projected operating margins of 3 percent to 5 percent in the fourth quarter.

The revised estimate means Delta will likely report a loss in the fourth quarter.

This year, airlines had been rebounding after years of losses as Delta and other carriers emerged from bankruptcy reorganizations with much leaner operations.

But Bastian said Delta is once again taking cost-cutting measures such as freezing new hires in "non-public-facing" job categories and targeting some unspecified positions for cuts. It is also parking aircraft and reducing its marketing budget in the face of a steep rise in fuel costs, its largest expense.

Delta now expects its average fuel price in the final three months of the year to be $2.60 per gallon, about 13 percent higher than previous projections. Jet fuel is Delta's largest expense.

Bastian said the carrier plans to freeze staff jobs that don't deal directly with customers. He said Delta has also "targeted some job cuts" but didn't offer specifics.

He said Delta has returned seven leased mainline jets and six smaller regional jets to reduce flying in the United States, and will cut 45 more jets next year.

"We'll take further steps to reduce supply" if fuel prices don't "stabilize," he said.

The carrier has more than 400 mainline jets in its fleet.

The reductions in Delta's domestic flying continue a strategy the airline has relied on during much of its turnaround efforts, as the growing competition from discount carriers has made many U.S. routes unprofitable for big network carriers.

Bastian said Delta will continue growing its more profitable overseas flying next year, where it is better able to pass higher fuel costs on to customers.

"We'll be growing international in relatively unabated terms," he said.

Anticipating questions about the airline industry's sagging stock performance, Bastian "we're also looking at the consolidation question" and taking other steps to boost Delta's market value.

He repeated an earlier announcement that a committee of its directors is looking at options ranging from acquiring another carrier to remaining an independent airline.

He said Delta will also take steps to more clearly report the financial performance of some of its operations that provide services to outside businesses, such as the maintenance division, its Delta Air Elite business jet unit, and its Comair regional carrier, which has previously said it is considering selling.
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:39 AM   #2  
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Hold on while I mosey over to flightinfo so the General can tell us all how this is a good thing & Delta can do no wrong...
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:54 AM   #3  
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Delta had announced their revision of the plan for 2008 several weeks ago and the internal hiring freeze began in the Summer. I believe the most recent AE reflects these changes going forward.

The "news" here is that the 4th quarter is going to be flat, or unprofitable. The pilot hiring will have to continue to staff the international expansion and the advanced entitlement awards have not staffed the fall of 2008 jets yet.

Oil is continuing to drop despite OPEC's verbiage and Chavez's attempt to subvert Venezuela's Constitution and install himself as Supreme Leader for life failed.

Yes, it is bad news, but I'm not running for the exits yet. Far from it.
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Old 12-04-2007, 08:53 AM   #4  
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There's an aweful lot of gas guzzling aircraft out there among the legacy carriers.

I'm thinking every carrier will want to see the back of their Mad Dogs and sooner than later. That's a lot of aircraft!

AL
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:07 AM   #5  
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I just don't understand airlines...if the cost to bring the product to market increases then the cost to consumers INCREASES! Everything else on the planet we consume behaves that way so why doesn't airfare? I travel every month on my own dime, and although price has increased, I never complain because it beats riding the bus/train. Am I the only person who views commercial air travel as a premium product? Flying vs. other forms of transportation is like a comparison between a BMW and a Nissan. Does the bus/train get the job done? I guess so. Does a Nissan get you to the same place a BMW does? I guess so. So why pay extra...? BECAUSE DRIVING TO THE AIRPORT IN MY BMW AND FLYING TO MY DESTINATION IS SIMPLY BETTER! And I pay for it...it's a premium product and service. Is this really so difficult? Airlines need to ditch the Wal-Mart factor. Anyone overnighted something recently on FedEx or UPS? You guessed it..the price has gone up!
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:26 AM   #6  
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It's a catch 22 boss....You raise the ticket fares....you are going to scare away some of the vacation/fun flyers who don't need to go anywhere. This inturn lowers revenue coming in. With the middle class's disposable income dwindling, its a fine line between raising ticket prices and still having them afford to fly.
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:28 AM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asupilot View Post
I just don't understand airlines...
Airlines are not to be understood, they are to be worked for. Airlines don't provide service for passengers, they provide fat paychecks and golden parachutes for executives......

Sad, but true.
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:48 AM   #8  
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Once read that "the business of an airline is not to serve the customer, but rather to drive the other airlines out of business." May you live in interesting times.
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Old 12-04-2007, 11:37 AM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asupilot View Post
Airlines need to ditch the Wal-Mart factor. Anyone overnighted something recently on FedEx or UPS? You guessed it..the price has gone up!
Need to ditch the LCC's then....
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Old 12-04-2007, 12:02 PM   #10  
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...and one of my buddies just started 75/76 school there last month...
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