DALLAS – Delta Air Lines (DL) has published its financial results for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2021 and its outlook for the first quarter of 2022.

Q4 2021 was good for DL. The airline announced a pre-tax income of US$170m, and an operating revenue of US$8.4bn. Operating revenue was at 74% of the 2019 levels. It shows how the airline recovered financially, given that capacity was restored by 79%. The carrier also managed to reduce its operating expenses compared to 2019.

Delta also managed to improve its remuneration from its American Express partnership. The airline made US$1.2bn during Q4, which is 11% more than before COVID.

TO sum up, the airline confirmed that it was no longer in the red financially. DL had US$14.2bn in liquidity at the end of December 2021. The airline reports it was more profitable in the second half of the year, with a pre-tax profit of US$1.1bn in the second half of 2021.

Delta is one of the founding members of the Skyteam alliance. Photo: Andrew Henderson/Airways

Expected 2021 FY Results

For the full year of 2021, the results were, as expected, not good. The beginning of the year was indeed very hard for airlines. Yet, when compared to Q4, the report shows how the DL improved financially s the year progressed. The total adjusted pre-tax loss for 2021 is US$3.4bn. This excludes a US$3.8m net benefit from items related to the Payroll Support Programs (PSP), from the US government.

Further, the operating revenue for the whole year was US$26.7bn, which is 57% of 2019 levels, including 71% of capacity. The operating expenses were lower than those of 2019, and the American Express remuneration recovered to 98% of 2019 levels. “We saw encouraging trends in business and international travel, and our diverse revenue streams remained resilient,” said DL President, Glen Hauenstein.

Comments from Ed Bastian

Delta Air Lines had good results in 2021 given the continuing fallout of the pandemic, especially during Q4. This is great news for DL, which is why the airline decided to offer its eligible employees a special bonus. DL CEO Ed Bastian commented on the yearly results.

Bastian gave a recap of 2021, saying that it “was a year like no other for Delta, with significant progress in our recovery supported by growing brand preference, enabling us to be the only major U.S. airline to deliver profitability across the second half of the year.”

According to the CEO, the good results are due to the company’s employees. “As always, our people drove this success, which is why we were happy to announce this morning a special profit-sharing payment for all eligible employees.”

Delta is based in many cities in the US, with its biggest hub in Atlanta Hartsfield (ATL). Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Good Results Despite COVID

Airlines canceled thousands of flights near the end of the year, due to the surge of the omicron variant. Some airlines, such as Alaska Airlines (AS), had to reduce its January schedule. “While the rapidly spreading omicron variant has significantly impacted staffing levels and disrupted travel across the industry, Delta’s operation has stabilized over the last week and returned to pre-holiday performance,” declared Bastian.

Looking forward, Bastian concluded that Omicron was expected to “temporarily delay the demand recovery for 60 days, but as we look past the peak, we are confident in a strong spring and summer travel season with significant pent-up demand for consumer and business travel.”

The airline CEO is still confident that travel demand will spike before summer.

Featured image: Delta is one of the largest American carriers. Photo: Fabrizion Spicuglia/Airways