Delta expects positive Q4 margin

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Delta Air Lines anticipates that it will generate an operating margin of between 4% and 6% in the fourth quarter, as it comes off a record third quarter.

October passenger unit revenues are expected to increase by 4% to 5% compared to 2011 and November trends are "positive", says Ed Bastian, president of the Atlanta-based SkyTeam alliance carrier, during an earnings call on 24 October. Strong corporate bookings and continued capacity discipline are driving the growth.

Capacity will decrease by between 1% and 3% during the quarter versus a year earlier, adds Bastian. This is in line with previously disclosed capacity guidance.

Domestic capacity will shrink by 1% to 3% and international capacity by 2% to 4%.

Delta anticipates that unit costs excluding fuel and profit sharing will be up by 5% to 7% during the quarter. It expects to pay an average of $3.15 to $3.20 per gallon for fuel including taxes and hedges.

Capital expenditure will be between $450 million and $550 million.