Delta also has a large network of profitable international routes; I recently flew on a full Delta plane from London. In the U.S. I've found Delta can generally match Southwest's prices on key routes without losing money.
Delta, in fact, now stands as the strongest survivor of the old hub-and-spoke system, bringing planes from a collection of places into one place at one time. This has driven nearly every company using it, including Delta, to the bankruptcy courts at one time or another.
is still under bankruptcy protection, and its plan for reorganization is still before a judge, its move to merge with
being fought by the Department of Justice.
, which also uses a hub-and-spoke system, combined three years ago into one money-loser, which has more revenue than Delta but far more problems, having just recalled the last of its pilots from furlough.
To Wall Street, airlines are like the tap-dancing elephant: They may not do it well, but it's amazing they do it at all. Anderson has Delta dancing again, he's made the stock look like a bargain again, and to this old Atlantan that's pretty amazing.
At the time of publication, the author owned no shares in companies mentioned here.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.