Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian has published a New Year memo for employees, in which he admits that “Simply re-creating the Delta from 2019 won’t be an option” in a post-pandemic world.

“As difficult as 2020 was, in many ways I expect the next 12 months to be even more challenging,” said Bastian. “Just as we’ve never experienced a global pandemic in our history, we’ve also never had to create and execute a plan for recovery from one.”

“We will be building a new Delta centred on a medical and economic recovery that hasn’t yet taken shape. While our long history has taught us much, our success will depend on our collaboration, our willingness to be open to new ideas, our ability to adapt and our humility in recognizing that we won’t always know the answers.”

Delta recently launched Covid-tested flights on selected transatlantic routes with partners including Alitalia and KLM, and will continue to block middle seats until at least March this year.

Bastian said that the carrier would “continue to focus on masks, regular testing, self-assessments for symptoms, social distancing and cleaning to help stop the spread and save lives”.

“While we have high hopes that vaccinations will tame the virus this year, we also know that the next few months may be the most difficult yet,” warned Bastian.

“Cases continue to rise amid the winter weather, and Covid-related deaths are tragically at an all-time high. Keeping our people, our customers and our communities safe has never been more important.”

Bastian also reiterated Delta’s commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral airline –  the carrier unveiled a ten-year, $1 billion commitment to mitigate all emissions from its global business in February last year, shortly before the onset of the pandemic.

Delta commits $1 billion to carbon neutral plans