Delta has published its financial results for the full year 2020, showing a net loss of $12.4 billion.

Passenger revenues were down 70 per cent on 2019, as the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in “the toughest year in Delta’s history”.

The carrier reported a daily cash burn of between $12 million in the final quarter of 2020, although Delta’s interim co-chief financial officer Gary Chase said that this was “a reduction of nearly 90 percent since the early days of the pandemic in March, as we progress to achieving cash breakeven in the spring”.

Earlier this month Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian warned that “the next few months may be the most difficult yet”, and president Glen Hauenstein said that the airline sees “three distinct phases in 2021”.

“The early part of the year will be characterized by choppy demand recovery and a booking curve that remains compressed, followed by an inflection point, and finally a sustained demand recovery as customer confidence gains momentum, vaccinations become widespread and offices re-open,” said Hauenstein.

“For each phase, Delta has the levers to pull to successfully react to the emerging demand environment, including tightly matching our sellable capacity to expected demand.”

The carrier said it would continue to block middle seats on its aircraft until “at least March 31, 2021”, the only major US airline to have such a commitment.

Delta to continue blocking middle seats until March 2021

“Our December quarter results capped the toughest year in Delta’s history, said Bastian. “I want to thank the Delta people who have risen to the occasion, focusing on delivering results for all of our stakeholders by putting our customers at the centre of our recovery.

“While our challenges continue in 2021, I am optimistic this will be a year of recovery and a turning point that results in an even stronger Delta returning to revenue growth, profitability and free cash generation.”