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Hollywood, auto strikes dent Delta business travel

A Delta Airlines passenger jet approaches to land at LAX throughout the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 7, 2021.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Recent strikes by Hollywood talent and United Auto Workers union members are a “drag” on business travel demand, which is otherwise recovering, Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein said Thursday.

Delta has an outsized exposure to the automotive and entertainment industries, with a greater than 70% market share at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and a virtually 20% share at Los Angeles International Airport, greater than every other carrier, in accordance with airport data.

The strikes have had “a not insignificant change within the business travel to and from Los Angeles in addition to now the UAW strike, which curtailed a big amount of the business in Detroit,” Hauenstein said on an earnings call Thursday. “We are probably essentially the most impacted by those two sectors.”

The United Auto Workers’ targeted strikes, which began after major Detroit automakers and the union failed to achieve labor deals before a September contract expiration, are entering their fourth week — and escalating.

Hollywood writers earlier this week ratified a recent three-year contract after nearly 150 days of labor stoppage that suspended significant film and TV production.

But Hollywood actors, represented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, are still on strike. And late Wednesday, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents production studios like Disney, Universal, Netflix and others, said talks have been been suspended with the 2 sides far apart on a deal.

Delta’s Hauenstein noted that demand from technology and financial services customers posted double-digit growth within the third quarter, contributing to an overall rebound for business travel.

An organization survey of corporate customers found that a majority expect their travel to remain the identical or increase within the last three months of this 12 months and into 2024, Hauenstein said.

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