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Delta Trims Loss; Business Travel Returns

The first airline to report this earnings season said the revenue environment is showing improvement.
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(DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report

reported an improved first quarter and said its outlook continues to improve as business travel returns.

Excluding items, the net loss was $192 million, or 23 cents a share, in line with estimates. Revenue increased 2% to $6.85 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated revenue of $7 billion.

In the same quarter a year earlier, excluding items, the carrier lost 84 cents a share.

With items, Delta lost $256 million, or 31 cents a share, in the March 2010 quarter.

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"We are encouraged by the improvements we continue to see in the revenue environment," said CEO Richard Anderson, in a prepared statement. "We expect the positive revenue trends to continue and to be solidly profitable in the June quarter." Anderson said results reflect "$1 billion in annual run-rate synergies" as a result of Delta's merger with



During the quarter, passenger revenue per available seat mile increased 8%. "Our revenue performance for the quarter continues to build momentum, despite a $65 million revenue impact from February's severe weather," said President Ed Bastian, in a prepared statement.

"We expect these trends to improve over the course of this year as business travel continues to return, capacity discipline is maintained and synergies from the merger are realized," Bastian said.

On the cost side, cost per available seat mile excluding fuel and special items grew 1%, despite 4% lower capacity and the impact of winter storms. Non-fuel CASM is expected to be flat for the full year.

At the end of the quarter, Delta had $5.6 billion in unrestricted liquidity, including $4.9 billion in cash, after paying down $375 million in debt..

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.