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Delta expects to add more flights in August but cautious on post-summer travel

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An Airbus SE A321-211 aircraft, operated by Delta Air Lines Inc., flies into San Diego International Airport (SAN) in San Diego, California, U.S., on Monday, April 27, 2020.

Bing Guan | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Delta Air Lines plans to continue adding flights throughout the summer but executives remain cautious about adding flights after the peak summer season.

The Atlanta-based carrier expects to add around 1,000 flights a day in July and a similar number in August, CEO Ed Bastian said in shareholder call on Thursday. Its August domestic capacity would still be down between 55% and 60% from normal levels, he said. Delta earlier this month said its capacity in the second quarter was down 85% from a year ago.

After adding flights, Delta plans to “take a pause, and we’ll see how demand looks post-Labor Day before we decide to add further domestic flights back,” Bastian said.

Air travel has been ticking higher as the peak late-spring and summer travel season gets into full swing but the impact of the pandemic has been deep and demand is a fraction of normal levels.

An average of 415,135 people were screened at U.S. airports in the first 16 days of June, according to the Transportation Security Administration. That’s close to four times the number screened in the same period of April, at the depths of the demand crisis, but down more than 83% from the same period a year ago.

Delta aims to eliminate its cash burn by the end of 2020, which he estimated at $30 million a day in June, down from $100 million a day in March. It has cut operating costs by 55% in the second quarter.

Delta raised more than $14 billion since the start of March, excluding federal coronavirus relief,and is on track to have more than $10 billion in liquidity by the end of the year, according to Bastian.

Delta’s shares were down more than 1.5% in morning trading.

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