ATLANTA ( TheStreet) -- Delta ( DAL) reported a first-quarter loss as fuel costs increased by $250 million, but projected gains in the current quarter. Excluding items, the carrier lost $39 million, or 5 cents a share, in line with estimates. Revenue rose 9% to $8.4 billion, also in line with estimates.
Including $163 million in special items, primarily $151 million in mark-to-market gains for fuel hedges, Delta reported first-quarter net income of $124 million. The carrier's pretax loss was $36 million, representing a $355 million improvement over the same period a year earlier despite a $250 million increase in fuel expense. "Our March quarter improvement in results and operations are further evidence of the building momentum at Delta," said CEO Richard Anderson, in a prepared statement. "We expect the June quarter and full year will be not only solidly profitable but also a significant improvement over last year, despite higher fuel prices." Delta projects an operating margin of 8% to 10% in the current quarter. During the first quarter, passenger revenue per available seat mile rose 14%, reflecting higher ticket prices. The biggest gain was in the Atlantic, where PRASM rose 22%, followed by a 15% gain in the Pacific and a 12% gain on domestic routes. On the cost side, cost per available seat mile excluding fuel and special items rose 3.5% as capacity declined 3%. "By staying disciplined with capacity, making the right investments in our products, and pricing for what customers value, Delta has again generated a revenue premium to the industry," said President Ed Bastian. -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/tedreednc.