The company earned $ 194 million in the quarter, adjusted for special items. This is down from the $ 1.5 billion earned in the quarter of 2019, the year before the pandemic uprooted global air travel.
“Our September quarter marked a significant milestone in our recovery,” said CEO Ed Bastian, warning that the benefits may be short-lived.
Fuel is the second most important cost for an airline behind the cost of labor. Delta paid an average of $ 1.94 a gallon for fuel in the third quarter, up 55% from a year ago, but about the same price it paid two years ago. But the company has warned that it expects to pay between $ 2.25 and $ 2.40 a gallon on average for the current quarter.
The company reported net profit in the second quarter, but that was mainly due to a final injection of support from the government and other airlines received during the quarter.
Delta and other U.S. airlines had a strong summer travel season as pent-up demand for vacation travel filled the planes. Delta occupied 80% of its available seats in the quarter, slightly below the 88% level it reported in the same period of 2019.
But a major factor in crowded airplane seats is that Delta is still far below the number of flights it made two years ago. The airline’s overall capacity fell 28% in the quarter compared to the same period in 2019, with much of the reduction on international routes. Domestic capacity was down 16%.
Yet Delta’s 2021 schedule is comparatively much closer to its pre-pandemic schedule than it was throughout 2020, when capacity was only half of what it was before the crisis.
The airline’s overall revenue in the quarter fell 27% from 2019 levels to $ 9.2 billion. The airline has flown less than half of its pre-pandemic schedule on transatlantic and transpacific routes, although international flights to and from Latin America are at less than 7% of levels. before the pandemic.
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