Rising yields and plummeting fuel costs allowed Delta Air Lines today to post a $1.05 billion net profit in the third quarter, nearly double its performance in the same quarter a year ago.
Operativing revenue for the Atlanta-based, SkyTeam carrier inched higher year-on-year by 1% to $9.92 billion, but passenger revenue per available seat mile grew by 3%. Delta's capacity cut of 2% slightly out-paced a 1% decline in passenger traffic, yielding a slight, 0.3 point increase in passenger load factor.
The small gains in operating performance helped Delta's bottom line, but not as much as a 23% decline in aircraft fuel costs during the quarter due mainly to mark-to-market adjustments. Delta launched operations at the newly-acquired Trainer Refinery in the quarter, but does not expect it to generate a positive contribution until at least the fourth quarter.
At the same time, the carrier's salaries and benefits cost category rose by 8% to $1.85 billion compared to the third quarter last year.
Delta ended the quarter on 30 September with $5.1 billion in unrestricted liquidity, including $3.2 billion in cash and short-term investments. Another $1.9 billion is in undrawn revolving credit facilities.