(Adds CEO comments on Gulf-based carriers, details on August
computer system outage)
By Alwyn Scott
NEW YORK Oct 7 Delta Air Lines this
year carried the most passengers in a summer ever, despite a
computer outage in August, Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian
said on Friday.
"We had the strongest summer in our history," Bastian said
at an event in New York, adding that three days in July "set
all-time records in terms of volume of traffic and volume of
Bastian's comments come after Delta reported declines during
the summer months in unit revenue, which tallies the amount of
passenger revenue per available seat-mile.
Bastian said traffic was up because fares were about 6
percent lower than last year. That meant revenue per passenger
was down, but the airline's profit margins were "still strong,"
Bastian also criticized subsidies that he said airlines in
Qatar and United Arab Emirates have received from their
governments, stifling U.S. competition.
Delta, United Continental Holdings Inc and American
Airlines Group Inc have protested the support for
months. On Friday, Bastian said the subsidy levels had reached
$50 billion among the Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates
airline, and have made it uncompetitive for U.S. airlines to fly
to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
The Gulf-based carriers dispute that view, saying they have
received investments, not subsidies.
Regarding an Aug. 8 computer outage that forced Delta to
cancel hundreds of flights, Bastian said a large spark from a
failed piece of equipment had shut down a power transformer, and
backup systems that were supposed to kick in failed to start.
Delta had not tested a full system shutdown before, Bastian
said, because the airline runs continuously. But he said it had
done critical testing since the event. The company now has a
backup system and a third system located outside its home base
of Atlanta in case the other two fail, he said.
(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)