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Delta hikes sales forecast to pre-pandemic levels as demand and fares rise

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Delta Air Lines expects its revenue to return to 2019 levels this quarter because of a surge in travel demand and better fares that helped it cover a jump in fuel costs, the carrier said in a filing Wednesday.

The Atlanta-based airline also raised its margin outlook for the second quarter despite higher costs for fuel and other expenses. Delta had previously forecast sales to be as much as 7% below pre-pandemic levels.

Consumers have shown they’re willing to shell out more for airline tickets after holding off on travel for 2 years throughout the pandemic. In some cases, demand returned more quickly than carriers expected. That prompted airlines including Southwest, JetBlue, Spirit and Alaska to trim their schedules to account for challenges from staffing shortages and bad weather.

Delta updated its forecast lower than every week after announcing it will trim its schedule to try to stem flight disruptions that impacted tens of 1000’s of passengers last month. The airline has been more conservative about expanding its schedule compared with competitors.

Still, tons of of flights operated by Delta and other airlines were canceled or delayed over the important thing Memorial Day holiday weekend. Delta’s schedule trims also mean the corporate now expects its non-fuel costs per seat mile to be up as much as 22% compared with 2019, up from its previous estimate of a 17% increase.

Delta shares dropped greater than 5% on Wednesday. Other carriers also ended lower.

Delta airplanes are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport throughout the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Queens, Latest York City, U.S., December 26, 2021.

Jeenah Moon | Reuters

American Airlines has been more aggressive than Delta and United in restoring capability to pre-pandemic levels. In a message to staff on Tuesday, the corporate said that it managed to perform relatively well over the vacation weekend despite operating a flight schedule that was 28% larger than its closest competition.

David Seymour, American’s chief operating officer, stressed the importance of delivering on reliability as an increasing number of people return to air travel.

“Key to our success this summer and beyond is running a reliable operation,” he wrote

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