(Updated 2:23 p.m.)
Delta Air Lines is doing what a lot of its competitors are doing to remain competitive: Cutting costs.
The main areas targeted are fuel, unneeded planes and staffing, with the last area most on the minds of airline employees in Atlanta and elsewhere.
Delta, the largest carrier serving Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and one of the metro area’s largest employers, reported that it took a $66 million charge for severance and other costs in the third quarter to cut staff through the early retirement of 2,000 workers earlier this year. The announcement was part of its third-quarter earnings report.
According to Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter, CEO Richard Anderson stated during an earnings call “that we do not anticipate furloughs.” Delta’s count of full-time equivalent employees – one FTE is equivalent to one employee working full-time – dropped to 76,626 from 79,709 in the third quarter.
Just last week, Southwest Airlines, the newest competitor in Delta’s back yard, announced it was reducing its employee headcount. CEO Gary Kelly didn’t provide specific numbers but told The Dallas Morning News the airline will trim its headcount next year through reduced hiring and attrition. Kelly also said there are no plans for layoffs.
Dallas-based Southwest last year acquired Orlando-based AirTran, the second-largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson. Kelly didn’t say how cuts would affect AirTran. Southwest will operate 30 flights from Atlanta this fall, while AirTran will operate 163.
With all of the cost-cutting and streamlining, it remains to be seen whether airline service will improve and whether travelers get a break on fares.
Delta came in No. 6 in the “meanest national carriers’” category of this year’s “America’s Best and Worst Airlines” list from U.S. News Travel, behind No. 5 Southwest . The ranking comes from the 2012 Airline Quality Ratings report, which ranks the performance and quality of 15 major American airline carriers. The “meanest” was United.
How do you think things will shake out for travelers?