Delta Air Lower After Loss; CEO Sees Return to Profitability

Delta Air Lines' CEO, Ed Bastian, says that if 'recovery trends hold,' the carrier expects to return to profitability in the September quarter.
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Delta Air Lines  (DAL) - Get Report shares were lower on Thursday after the company reported a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss but said it expected to return to profitability later this year. 

"If recovery trends hold, we expect positive cash generation for the June quarter and see a path to return to profitability in the September quarter as the demand recovery progresses," Chief Executive Ed Bastian said in a statement.

The Atlanta carrier reported an adjusted net loss of $3.55 a share, widened from the 51-cent loss of a year earlier. Operating revenue was $4.15 billion, a 60% decline from the year-earlier quarter. 

Analysts were expecting a net loss of $3.17 a share on revenue of $3.9 billion, according to FactSet.

The airline said last month that the loss for the March quarter could approach $3 billion as overall revenue comes in at the lower end of its earlier guidance. The company reported a $2.9 billion net loss. 

In the current quarter, revenue is expected to fall 50% to 55% compared with two years ago, an improvement from the first quarter's 60% decline. 

Last month, Delta said that on May 1 it would resume middle-seat service, a move to generate more revenue. 

The Atlanta carrier was the last major U.S. airline to lift this restriction, which was put in place last April at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Delta said it extended the policy due to travelers favoring the airline because of the safety measure.

This week, United Airlines  (UAL) - Get Report and American Airlines  (AAL) - Get Report said they expected first-quarter revenue declines of 66% and 62% compared with 2019, respectively, due to COVID-19's destruction of demand for air travel. 

At last check Delta Air Lines shares were 2.4% lower at $47.03.