Delta Air Lines posted a profit over the opening three months of the year on a non-adjusted basis for the first time since the pandemic.

The SkyTeam carrier made an operating profit of $614 million and a net profit of $37 million for the first quarter. That compares with an operating loss of $277 million and a net loss of $363 million for the first three months of 2023. Delta last recorded a first-quarter profit on a non-adjusted basis in 2019.

Delta Air Lines JFK

Source: Mikhalis Makarov/

Delta’s improved performance was based on revenues up 8% to $13.7 billion compared with the first quarter of 2023.

Passenger revenues climbed 7% as traffic growth of 9% outpaced the additional capacity in the quarter. As a result passenger load factor was two points higher in the first quarter at 83%.

The operator, the biggest airline in the world by revenue, is the first major carrier to report financials for the first quarter of the 2024 calendar year.

Delta chief executive Ed Bastian says: “For the March quarter we delivered record revenue on outstanding operational performance, enabling strong earnings growth. We anticipate continued strong momentum for our business, and in the June quarter we expect to deliver record revenue, a mid-teens operating margin and earnings of $2.20 to $2.50 per share. 

”We remain confident in our full year targets for earnings of $6 to $7 per share and free cash flow of $3 to $4 billion.”

Operating costs for the first quarter were 1% higher than the the same period of last year at $13.1 billion.

Delta chief financial officer Dan Janki says: “Growth is normalising and we are in a period of optimisation, with a focus on restoring our most profitable core hubs and delivering efficiency gains.”