Delta Air Weaker As it Warns of Q4 Loss After Q3 Profit

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Delta Air Weaker As it Warns of Q4 Loss After Q3 Profit
Credit: © Reuters.

By Dhirendra Tripathi – Delta Air Lines stock (NYSE: DAL ) slumped 5.4% Wednesday as the airline’s warning of a fourth-quarter loss was too much to take for traders even as it managed to report its first quarterly profit since the start of the pandemic.

Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian blamed record high crude prices for the company’s pessimism. US WTI crude WTI/USD for November delivery crossed $82 a barrel Monday to touch a multi-year high.

“While demand continues to improve, the recent rise in fuel prices will pressure our ability to remain profitable for the December quarter,” Bastian said in a note.

Bastian told Reuters (TSX: TRI ) fuel costs alone accounted for nearly 20% of Delta's adjusted operating expenses in the third quarter. According to the CEO, every 5-cent increase in fuel prices drives up its expense by about $40 million.

Delta President Glen Hauenstein said the airline expects total December-quarter revenue to recover to the low 70s percentage relative to 2019 quarter’s $11.4 billion.

Capacity during the ongoing quarter is seen getting restored to 80% relative to the same period of 2019.

The carrier said its September-quarter revenue recovered two-thirds or 66% of 2019 levels on the back of a continued improvement in travel demand. A capacity that is 71% restored delivered adjusted operating revenue of $8.3 billion.

Remuneration from American Express (NYSE: AXP ) in the quarter crossed $1 billion, up 1% compared to September-quarter 2019.

September-quarter adjusted pre-tax income was $216 million.

According to the company, transatlantic traffic improved the most, a result of both U.S. and Europe easing limits on air travel. Premium cabins outperformed main cabin in the most recovered entities. Paid premium cabin load factors were better too. This should only improve, the airline said, as premium revenue in other entities improves with the return of business and international travel at scale.

Corporate demand was stable but fell short of expectations as businesses delayed the reopening of offices.

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