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Delta Air Lines posted its highest quarterly revenue and earnings ever thanks to searing travel demand that has defied fears of an economic slowdown for months.
International travel and demand for premium seats like first class were standouts during the three months ended June 30, while a 22% drop in Delta’s fuel costs boosted the carrier’s bottom line.
The Atlanta-based carrier on Thursday hiked its 2023 earnings forecast to an adjusted $6 to $7 a share, up from its estimate last month at the high end of a $5 to $6 per share range.
Delta’s shares were up more than 3% in premarket trading after reporting results.
Here’s how Delta performed in the quarter ended June 30 compared with Wall Street expectations based on Refinitiv consensus estimates:
- Adjusted earnings per share: $2.68 cents vs. $2.40 expected.
- Adjusted Revenue: $14.61 billion vs. $14.49 billion expected.
Delta is the first of the U.S. airlines to post second-quarter results, and its report sets an upbeat tone for the rest of the year.
CEO Ed Bastian said he expects consumers’ desire for travel will fuel bookings for years.
“I think the trends that we’ve seen this year are going to continue,” he said in an interview.
In the third quarter, Delta expects to earn $2.20 to $2.50 a share, above analysts’ expectations, on a 16% increase in capacity. The airline forecast a jump in revenue of as much as 14% from a year earlier.
Delta’s net income for the quarter was $1.83 billion, or $2.84 a share, up from $735 million, or $1.15 a share, a year ago. Adjusting for certain items, per-share earnings were $2.68 for the quarter, up from $1.44 in the same period last year.
The airline’s net income was the highest since the fourth quarter of 2013, when the airline put more than $8 billion in tax-loss credits back on its balance sheet.
Delta brought in $14.61 billion in revenue, adjusted to strip out sales from its refinery, in the three months ended June 30, up 19% from a year ago, and above analysts estimates. Total revenue of $15.58 billion was up 13% from a year earlier.
Trans-Atlantic travel was particularly strong in the spring and early summer, with revenue from those trips up more than 60% from a year ago, compared with an 8% increase in domestic revenue and 21% increase in passenger revenue overall. Delta and its rivals have ramped up capacity to Europe this year in anticipation of the resurgence. (Bastian told CNBC he recently traveled to the south of France.)
Premium ticket revenue growth also outpaced main cabin economy sales growth.
Unit revenues, a measure of how much airlines are generating for every seat they fly a mile, rose 1% year-over-year, an a 17% rise in capacity.
“If you were to ask any quarter in which we grew capacity by high double digits and we held our overall pricing, that would be pretty amazing,” Bastian said.