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US-based carrier Delta Air Lines has decided to ground nearly 600 aircraft, as passenger operations have collapsed globally due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In addition to grounding nearly half of its fleet, the airline also decided to reduce its flying capacity by more than 70% until demand restores.

In a memo to the employees, Delta chief executive Ed Bastian highlighted that cash preservation is the company’s ‘top priority’ now, as it will help the business to rebound.

The company also anticipates the $2bn drop in revenue this month compared with a year earlier, Bloomberg quoted Bastian as saying to the employees in the note. He also warned that the decrease may widen next month.

Additionally, around 10,000 of its workers have applied for voluntary leave after the carrier introduced the scheme.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta serves over 300 destinations across more than 50 countries.

In the last month, several airlines have decreased their services due to travel restrictions and a reduction in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic grows.

Earlier this month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated that the global airline industry may incur revenue losses of up to $113bn this year due to COVID-19.

According to Reuters, the US administration is planning to invest $50bn in loans to support the airlines during this crisis.

It comes after Boeing, one of the world’s biggest aircraft manufacturers, sought $60bn aid for the aerospace industry.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll increased to 8,800 while the total number of confirmed cases crossed 218,000.