Delta Air Lines is not allowing an uncertain economic environment to cloud its optimistic outlook on holiday travel. The world’s largest airline by revenue is projecting that revenue will top pre-pandemic levels.
“It’s going to be a very strong holiday season” from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, even with high inflation, which accelerated in September, CEO Ed Bastian said Thursday during the airline’s third quarter analyst call.
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The chief executive noted that travel recovery will continue “as consumer spend shifts to experiences and demand improves in corporate and international.”
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.
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Delta President Glen Hauenstein shared a similar sentiment saying the air carrier projects that its fourth quarter revenue will be up 5% to 9% compared to the same time in 2019 due to “corporate travel improving and robust domestic and international demand.”
The positive outlook comes after the Atlanta, Georgia-based airline delivered “record quarterly revenues and a double-digit operating margin” during the three-month period ending in September, according to Bastian.
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That was possible because the average passenger paid 23% more per mile than during the same months of 2019. Revenue from premium customers rose, while money from the main cabin dipped slightly.
Operating revenue grew 11% to $13.98 billion compared to the same quarter in 2019.
Net income fell 54% to $695 million.
Cost per available seat mile (CASM) increased 43% to 19.87 cents.
Fuel expense jumped 48% to $3.3 billion with the average price per gallon rising 84% to $3.57.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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