Delta struggles impacting economy across Atlanta

ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines is the world's largest airline and Atlanta’s largest private employer.

But right now, Delta is hurting – and when Delta hurts, Atlanta hurts too.

In its nearly 100-year history, this is the hardest the airline has been hit.

The company says it’s losing $50 million a day. Yesterday, CEO Ed Bastian announced the airline is retiring its largest plane, the 777. Not long before that, billionaire Warren Buffet sold all his stock in Delta and saying, “I don't know that three, four years from now people will fly as many passenger miles as they did last year. You've got too many planes."

All of Delta’s struggles are beginning to impact the city as a whole. The airport is a major driver and what happens there affects the hotel, convention and meeting industry and eventually our restaurants and food and beverage.

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“I saw this morning where domestic air travel is down 93%. The average domestic jet has 17 people aboard. How does that trickle down to tourism and the hospitality industry?” asked Debby Cannon, Ph.D, who leads Georgia State’s hospitality program.

Cannon says while we are struggling now, she believes we could see a swift recovery in Atlanta.

“We still do have conventions starting as early as this summer and fall so it is going to be a busy time with people flying in,” she said.

And, even if business travel may never be quite the same, Cannon says from the aquarium, to our zoo, museums and sporting events, Atlanta is a proven attraction itself.

“Over the last several years we’ve done, as a city, a good job of building our attractions and being a destination for that leisure traveler,” she said.