Delta sees Trainer retrofits as next step toward yield improvements

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Delta Air Lines president Ed Bastian calls plans to increase jet fuel yields at its Trainer refinery the next step in upgrading the plant, despite production being far below initial targets.

The plan to increase production to 40,000 barrels per day is the "next stage in the process" of retrofitting the facility to maximise jet fuel production, he says on the sidelines of the opening of the Atlanta-based carrier's $1.2 billion expansion of terminal 4 at New York's John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport today.

The upgrades are slated to be operational by early 2014, he notes.

About 22% of Trainer's 185,000 barrels per day capacity will be jet fuel when the retrofits are complete. This is well below the yields of up to 32% that Delta outlined when it bought the plant in June 2012.

Bastian declines to comment on whether the carrier will achieve its original yield targets.

Airline executives have remained positive about the investment since production began last September. They anticipate Trainer to at least break even this quarter after losses during the previous two quarters.

"The Trainer refinery has been a fairly remarkable investment," said Richard Anderson, chief executive of Delta, during a speech on 22 May.

Delta bought the Pennsylvania plant from Philips 66 for $180 million and invested $100 million in upgrades last year.