A Delta Airlines aircraft lands at Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney, Australia on October 31, 2021 from Los Angeles.
James D Morgan | Getty Images
In the fourth quarter, Delta reported its highest revenue since late 2019, thanks in part to strong vacation bookings and more business travel.
Revenue of $9.47 billion beat analysts’ expectations of $9.21 billion. The company has yet to fully recover from this Covid-19 Crisis. Revenue fell 17% from $11.44 billion in the last three months of 2019, just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
CEO Ed Bastian said omicron is expected to delay the recovery in travel demand by 60 days.
“The next four to six weeks will be difficult,” Bastian said in an interview with CNBC.Squawk box” on Thursday. “What we’re seeing in the booking data is that the President’s weekend forward is looking really robust. Our numbers and bookings continue during this period. People are ready to travel.”
Delta committed $108 million to employee profit sharing, the first in nearly two years.
“Amid ongoing challenges, including one of the most difficult holiday environments we’ve ever encountered, you continue to rise and provide our customers with an unmatched service,” Bastian said in a note to employees on Thursday.
Here’s how Delta has performed versus analysts’ expectations, according to average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:
- Adjusted earnings per share: 22 cents versus 14 cents expected.
- Revenue: $9.47 billion versus $9.21 billion expected.
Delta posted a net loss of $408 million in the fourth quarter as fuel and other costs rose, due in part to disruptions from Omicron proliferation. Adjusted for one-time items, Delta reported earnings per share of 22 cents, up from the 14 cents Wall Street was expecting.
For the full year, Delta reported a profit of $280 million, the first in two years, thanks to $4.5 billion in federal aid for airline labor costs during the crisis. In 2020, after travel demand plummeted, Delta posted its biggest loss ever: $12.4 billion.
Delta is the first US airline to report fourth-quarter results and provide a detailed forecast of the variant’s impact on its business. Omicron’s rapid spread has hit theaters and restaurants retailers and Super Market.
Airlines, including Delta, have canceled thousands of flights since Christmas Eve as a surge in Covid infections among crews has led to staff shortages.
Delta said operations have stabilized and that Omicron has canceled just 1% of its flights over the past week.
But omicron will keep bookings under wraps in the short term, the airline said.
“Despite expectations for a loss in the March quarter, we remain positioned to deliver a healthy profit in the June, September and December quarters, leading to meaningful profit in 2022,” said Dan Janki, Delta’s CFO, in the profit announcement.
Investors have largely ignored omicron’s impact on airlines. Delta shares are up 3.9% this year through Wednesday United and American Stocks are up 6.3% and 3%, respectively. the S&P500, down 0.84% in comparison.
Delta expects first-quarter revenue to be 24% to 28% below 2019 levels, with capacity 15% to 17% lower than it was flying three years earlier. It predicted a jump in costs of about 15% from 2019, excluding fuel.
Airlines have compared the results to 2019 to show how far business has recovered from pre-pandemic levels.
Challenges for Delta and other airlines this year include hiring more employees to meet travel demand, a challenge in a tight job market.