Delta CFO rescinds retirement as coronavirus roils air travel

Delta CFO Paul Jacobson

Source: Delta Airlines

Delta Air Lines CFO Paul Jacobson has rescinded his retirement and plans to stay with the carrier as it struggles through the devastating impact of coronavirus on air travel.

CEO Ed Bastian said Tuesday that he had asked Jacobson to reconsider his plans, unveiled in February, to retire this year.

Jacobson has worked for the Atlanta-based airline for more than two decades and was named CFO in 2012.

“Under his leadership, we have boosted our liquidity through commercial markets and expanded our cash position to help us weather the storm in the months to come,” Bastian wrote in a memo to employees. “Paul and his team have been instrumental in executing our strategy for cost reduction while forging the path ahead so that Delta is positioned to lead the industry when the recovery comes.”

Bastian didn’t say how long Jacobson would remain at the airline but said: “we can all be heartened by the fact that Paul has chosen to stay with Delta not only as we rebuild, but for many years to come as we continue our climb.”

Executives at Delta and other U.S. airlines including United, American, Southwest and others have said they are facing an unprecedented crisis in the coronavirus pandemic, which has driven air travel demand down to the lowest levels in decades, draining cash from carriers even as they ground hundreds of planes and thousands of workers take unpaid leave at the company’s request.

Airlines are receiving portions of $25 billion in government grants and loans that require them not to furlough or cut the pay rates of workers through Sept. 30, even as bookings plunge.

They are starting to detail the financial damage of the pandemic, which as killed at least 171,249 gobally. United on Monday said it lost $2.1 billion in the first quarter and that it plans to seek additional government loans to blunt the impact of the pandemic.

Delta is scheduled to report quarterly earnings before the market opens on Wednesday and hold a call with analysts at 10 am ET.

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