Delta expects $250m profit in Q4

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Delta Air Lines anticipates a $200 million to $250 million profit during the fourth quarter, say executives.

Profit could have topped $300 million for the quarter without a $50 million negative impact from superstorm Sandy, says Ed Bastian, president of the Atlanta-based carrier.

Sandy hit the New Jersey coast on 29 October and shut down Delta's hubs at New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia, as well as airports along the eastern seaboard of the USA.

Bastian says that Delta's operating margin will be between 5% and 6% during the quarter, which is the higher range of guidance that it provided in October.

Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) is anticipated to grow by 3% to 4% compared to the same period in 2011, he says.

Consolidated unit costs excluding fuel are expected to increase by 5% to 6% during the quarter. Delta anticipated a 5% to 7% increase in October.

The airline anticipates that it paid between $3.20 and $3.25 per gallon for jet fuel in the fourth quarter. This is higher than the $3.15 to $3.20 per gallon guidance it released two months ago.

Capital expenditure will also be higher than expected at between $600 million to $650 million, versus an anticipated $450 million to $550 million in October.