Transcript for Delta CEO speaks on rising reports of unruly passengers
Let's bring in Ed Bastian, the CEO of delta airlines. Thanks for joining us this morning. Let's start off by talking about that incident on your company's plane we just saw. An off-duty flight attendant, and the passengers say he was acting strangely. Should delta done more to prevent this? Could you have? Well, good morning, George. Thanks for having me. The safety of our customers and our crew is a paramount concern to us at all times, and I've got to tell you that our crew on board that flight handle the situation professionally. They managed it well, resolved it quickly, safely. At no point that aircraft was ever in danger. It was app unfortunate situation, it was a sad situation, but our team's doing a very, very good job of managing the stressful environment as we're seeing a massive surge in people returning to air travel and to public life. We're seeing this massive surge and unruly confrontations as well putting so much pressure on your crews. What has it been like for them, and what are you doing to make sure passengers are safe? Well, our crews are professionally trained to resolve situations like this. We have been dealing with it all the last year for masks. As you know, we enforced the mandate ourselves without the government's support last year to ensure masks were worn on board our planes. They're still there. We're having some incidents on that, but I would say, George, the bigger issue is that customers are returning in such large numbers. We know the pandemic caused a lot of emotional well-being challenges for a lot of people, and as everyone is coming back to life, we're seeing this in all walks of life. And we're seeing prices spike as well. Is there anything passengers can do right now to get better rates? I encourage people to book soon because as people are coming back and demand is increasing, you're going to see fares start to rise. They're still about the level they were, probably 5% to 10% less than 2019. Over the last year, they've increased because they were at an all-time low of travel last years, but I would expect by the end of the summer, hopefully we'll be back in the U.S. To fares that are probably consistent with where they were when we entered into the pandemic at the end of 2019. One of the other consequences of the surge is your phone lines are getting all jammed up. We're seeing on Twitter five-hour wait times. You can drive to the airport, get your ticket dealt with in person in that amount of time. Can you fix this? Yeah. Everyone in the industry is experiencing the same challenge. The phone volumes are up 40% above 2019 levels, and so we're not staffed, and we haven't been staffed for the massive amount of increase in call questions that people are having on the rise. Challenges in terms of understanding what the requirements are, the new requirements in travel will be. Our team is doing a great job. We're bringing a lot of resources in. I suspect in the next two to four weeks we'll be back to normal levels of handling times. Ed Bastian, thanks for your time this morning. Thank you.
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