Delta to cut first quarter capacity, 2013 flat

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Delta Air Lines will cut capacity by between 3% and 4% during the first quarter of 2013 compared to a year earlier.

The Atlanta-based carrier will keep full year capacity flat despite the first quarter cuts, says Ed Bastian, president of Delta, during an investor day today. He adds that departures will decline by 2% during the year compared to 2012 as the airline begins upgauging to larger aircraft from 50-seat regional jets under a three-year fleet restructuring plan.

Delta will begin removing about 218 small jets from its regional fleet and replacing them with 40 76-seat CRJ900s and 88 110-seat Boeing 717-200s in 2013.

The airline anticipates continuing improvements in passenger unit revenue in 2013 on corporate travel gains and revenue initiatives, including the fleet restructuring and New York LaGuardia hub, says Bastian.

Revenue benefits from the Trainer refinery will also be felt in 2013. He says that the airline expects about a $240 million profit from the plant during the year.

Costs excluding fuel are anticipated to grow by between 4% and 6%, says Bastian.