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Delta reports first quarterly profit since pandemic

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Delta Air Lines reported its first quarterly profit since the coronavirus pandemic, a sign of improving travel demand./AFP
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Jul 15, 2021 - 02:43 AM

NEW YORK — Delta Air Lines posted its first quarterly profit since the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday, propelled by improving travel demand and an infusion of federal funds for airline workers.

The big US carrier said domestic leisure voyages had recovered to pre-pandemic levels, while corporate travel volumes have begun to come back, doubling from 20 percent recovered in March to 40 percent recovered in June.

“Domestic leisure travel is fully recovered to 2019 levels and there are encouraging signs of improvement in business and international travel,” said Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian.

“With the recovery picking up steam, we are making investments to support our industry-leading operation.”

Delta reported a profit of $652 million for the quarter, compared with a loss of $5.7 billion in the year-ago period. Results in the 2021 period were boosted by $1.5 billion in federal payroll support funds approved by Congress.

Revenues were $7.1 billion, more than four times the level in the year-ago period, but down 43 percent from the 2019 quarter.

Coming into Wednesday’s report, Delta had suffered five straight quarterly losses during an historically brutal industry downturn in consumer travel due to Covid-19.

But the increase in bookings has enabled carriers to at last become cashflow positive again. Demand outpaced Delta’s forecasts on some key benchmarks in the second quarter, although business and international travel remain far below pre-pandemic levels.

Shares rose 1.7 percent to $42.03 in pre-market trading.

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