The biggest and most profitable U.S. airline just posted its first quarterly loss in more than five years. Now things are going to get really bad.
Delta Air Lines Inc. reported Wednesday that it lost $534 million in the first three months of the year, when it suffered a glancing blow from the coronavirus pandemic during March.
For most of the first quarter, the virus seemed like an abstraction to many Americans. Sure, it sounded dire, but it was an ocean away. Life in the U.S. unfolded normally. The economy was humming, people took business trips and leisure flights, planes were nearly full.
Since then, the virus brought restrictions on travel and stoked fear of being trapped in a flying aluminum tube while sharing recycled air with people who might be infected. Travel has plunged about 95%.
Delta’s first-quarter revenue dropped 18% from a year ago. The airline forecast a much grimmer picture for the second quarter, when the full impact of the global pandemic will be felt. Revenue…
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