Delta Air Lines expects it could be forced to delay the start date for its Airbus A220 operations due to ramifications of the US government shutdown, management told analysts and media on an earnings call on 15 January.
“With non-essential work at the FAA shut down, our Airbus A220 start date is likely to be pushed back due to delays in the certification process,” says Delta chief executive Ed Bastian. The carrier did not expect to cancel any routes or flights, he clarified later in the call.
The comments reiterate previous concerns about the shutdown impacting the timeline for launching the new aircraft type, which the carrier had been planning to put into revenue service from 31 January. It plans to use the aircraft mainly on routes originating from coastal cities, such as from New York LaGuardia to Boston and Dallas/Fort Worth.
In addition, Bastian notes that the shutdown is also affecting the airline’s ability to put seven other aircraft deliveries into service. There could be potential impact on other aircraft such as the Airbus A330-900neos, Delta’s chief operating officer Gil West noted later in the call.
“It gets back into certification issues, that we certify seats and crew rest and things of that nature, wi-fi systems—that with the government shutdown become problematic for us,” he says.
The carrier does not foresee an immediate impact, he adds, but notes this could change later depending on how long the shutdown lasts.
Delta is also expecting the shutdown to have other consequences.
“With respect to the government shutdown, we are seeing some pressure on our business,” Bastian says. “On the revenue front we’re experiencing about $25 million per month in lower government travel.” The airline does not expect the shutdown to have a meaningful impact on its quarterly or yearly unit cost guidance.
Several US government departments have been shut since 22 December, with lawmakers at an impasse on federal spending after failing to reach an agreement over funding a wall on the US-Mexico border. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been furloughed or are working without pay.