FIRST-QUARTER results from Delta Air Lines, which included a massive write-down to cover the last major chunk of its cost-cutting drive, have raised a mixed response from financial analysts.

The carrier reported its best-ever operating results for the first quarter, but the net profit came in below expectations, at $63 million, before the write-down.

The figures on seat costs also raised doubts that the US carrier will reach its mid-year target of a cost per available-seat kilometre (ASK) of just below 5¢ (8¢ per mile). In 1995, Delta had brought seat costs down to 5.3¢, but that figure rose again, to 5.5¢, in the latest quarter.

The final major pieces of the programme were put in place during the first quarter, as Delta wrote down $452 million against the retirement of its 55-strong Lockheed L-1011 fleet and another $104 million for restructuring. A final provision will be made in the current quarter to cover the anticipated $300 million cost of the airline's pilot early-retirement programme.

Source: Flight International