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Delta Turns a Profit

Delta Air Lines (DALRQ) lost $46 million in the third quarter excluding special items, as September losses of $134 million partially limited its improvement from a year earlier.

For the same quarter a year ago, Delta lost $438 million, excluding special items. With items, including reorganization costs related to its continuing bankruptcy, Delta reported net income of $52 million in the latest quarter. Delta's margin was 3.6%, an improvement of 9.2 points.

"Our restructuring efforts continue to result in significant year-over-year improvements to both our operating income and margin,'' said CFO Ed Bastian in a prepared statement. "Despite the nearly $250 million impact of higher fuel prices, we improved our operating profits by more than $300 million for the quarter."

Mainline passenger revenue per available seat mile rose 12.9%, a result of higher ticket prices and an initiative to shift capacity from domestic to international flights. Domestic passenger RASM rose 18.1%, while international passenger RASM rose by 3.3%, despite a 22% increase in international capacity during the year.

In September, Delta's passenger RASM, adjusted for flight length, was equal to 92% of industry average, up from 84% for the same month last year. The $134 million September loss excludes special bankruptcy-related items.

Operating revenue during the quarter totaled $4.66 billion, up 8.1% despite a 3.4% drop in capacity and an estimated $40 million negative impact from new security measures imposed in August.

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