DALLAS — Delta Air Lines (DL) becomes the first airline to publish its 2022 full-year financial results in the US. The airline turned a US$1.3bn profit this year, showing the recovery of the airline industry from the pandemic, despite high fuel prices and a challenging operational environment.
After publishing a record profit in the third quarter (Q3) of 2022, DL also enjoyed a profitable fourth quarter (Q4) despite the difficult winter operations. Indeed, the airline announced a pre-tax income of US$1.2bn and an operating margin of 11.6% for the last three months of the year. The operating revenue for the last quarter of the year even exceeded 2019, being 8% higher than pre-COVID levels.
The US$1.4bn profit marks a significant increase for the whole year, compared to the US$280m profit in 2021. This is good news for DL, which hopes to increase these numbers in 2023. Despite this strong recovery, the airline is still far from its $4.8bn in 2019 profit before the COVID pandemic.
The operating costs have also increased, primarily due to the high fuel prices, which have increased by 34% between 2019 and 2022, and the operating expense was almost $7bn higher this year.
Outlook for 2023
These healthy results show the industry’s recovery from the pandemic. Also, DL’s ability to turn a profit despite operational challenges this year highlights this situation. The airline hopes to keep increasing its profit and operating revenue, expecting Q1 2023 revenue “to accelerate further compared to 2019”.
The airline’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ed Bastian thanked all DL workers for their efforts, announcing profit-sharing payments for workers, “Delta people rose to the challenges of 2022, delivering industry-leading operational reliability and financial performance, and I’m looking forward to recognizing their achievements with over $500 million in profit sharing payments next month.”
He also announced his expectations for the year to come, “As we move into 2023, the industry backdrop for air travel remains favorable, and Delta is well positioned to deliver significant earnings and free cash flow growth. We expect to grow 2023 revenue by 15-20% and improve unit costs year-over-year.”
Featured Image: DL operated over 1,500,000 flights in 2022, according to airlinedata.com. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways