The carrier said net income excluding items was $558 million, or 65 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated 63 cents. Revenue rose 6% to $9.1 billion. Analysts had estimated $9 billion.
Including an $8 billion non-cash gain associated with the reversal of the company's tax valuation allowance, net income was $8.5 billion.
In premarket trading Tuesday, Delta shares were up $1.08 to $32.15.
"Our December quarter profit caps off a successful year for Delta with strong profitability and margin expansion, industry-leading operations and significant improvements in customer satisfaction," said CEO Richard Anderson, in a prepared statement. "We have a solid set of initiatives in place to improve our financial results, operational performance and customer satisfaction levels beyond 2013's record levels."
Looking ahead, Delta said it expects further revenue and margin improvement. For the current quarter, Delta expects an operating margin between 6% and 8%, capacity expansion of 2% to 3% and a gain in cost per available seat mile of 0.5% to 1.5%.
"With a solid demand environment, industry-wide capacity discipline and a number of Delta's revenue initiatives already delivering benefits, we expect to produce significant margin expansion in the March quarter," said President Ed Bastian. "As we move through the year, we expect to generate top-line revenue growth as we implement our Virgin Atlantic joint venture, continue to restructure and diversify our Pacific network, gain additional corporate share, and ramp up our merchandising efforts."