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  • By The Financial District

Delta Posts $695-M Q3 Profits, Prepares For Holiday Surge

Delta Air Lines expects travelers will pack planes during the upcoming holidays despite higher fares and growing concerns over inflation and the economy.

Photo Insert: Delta’s operating revenue rose 11% above 2019 levels even with an 18% drop in passenger traffic.

Delta posted a profit Thursday of $695 million in the third quarter as higher fares this summer and a lucrative credit-card business more than offset higher fuel prices, David Koenig reported for the Associated Press (AP).

The airline forecast a bigger-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter, with revenue that it expects will top pre-pandemic levels.

Delta’s CEO said he sees no indication that anxiety over inflation and the economy will discourage people from traveling over the holidays. Delta’s shares climbed 4% and other airline stocks rose with them.

“It’s going to be a very strong holiday season — Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s,” CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview. “Consumers are still relatively healthy.” Delta’s third-quarter numbers support that view.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The airline’s operating revenue rose 11% above 2019 levels even with an 18% drop in passenger traffic. That was possible because flights were nearly 90% full and the average passenger paid 23% more per mile than during the same months of 2019. Revenue from premium seats rose sharply.

The Atlanta carrier expects to earn between $1 and $1.25 per share on higher revenue in the fourth quarter, easily above Wall Street’s forecast of 79 cents, according to a FactSet survey.

Business: Business men in suite and tie in a work meeting in the office located in the financial district.

Bastian said advanced bookings — typically three or four months into the future — and comments from big corporate customers point to “very strong” travel demand through the fourth quarter and into early next year. “I can’t speak for the broader economy,” he said on a call with analysts and reporters.

“I know there is some pretty significant macro shifts going on in spending — out of goods and into services — which we are a beneficiary of ... we’re glad to see people back on the road.”

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