Delta Air Lines has reported financial results for the September quarter 2022 and provided its outlook for the December quarter 2022. "Thanks to the incredible work of our entire team, Delta delivered a strong September quarter with record quarterly revenues and a double-digit operating margin. The travel recovery continues as consumer spend shifts to experiences and demand improves in corporate and international," said Ed Bastian, Delta's chief executive officer. "In this environment, we expect December quarter revenue growth to accelerate versus 2019 with an operating margin of approximately 10 percent."
"With strong demand and a return to best-in-class operational performance, we are ahead of our plan for the year on profitability and expect to be free cash flow positive. We're working towards full network restoration by summer of 2023, which supports a meaningful step up in profitability and cash flow next year on our path to earn over $7 of EPS and $4 billion of free cash flow in 2024," Bastian said.
September Quarter 2022 GAAP Financial Results
• Operating revenue of $14.0 billion
• Operating income of $1.5 billion with an operating margin of 10.4 percent
• Earnings per share of $1.08
• Operating cash flow of $869 million
• Payments on debt and finance lease obligations of $1.8 billion
• Total debt and finance lease obligations of $23.2 billion at quarter end
September Quarter 2022 Adjusted Financial Results
• Operating revenue of $12.8 billion, 3 percent higher than September quarter 2019, including a $35 million impact from Hurricane Ian
• Operating income of $1.5 billion with an operating margin of 11.6 percent
• Earnings per share of $1.51, including a 3¢ impact from Hurricane Ian
• $11.2 billion in liquidity* and adjusted net debt of $20.5 billion at quarter end
Compared to December quarter 2019
September Quarter Revenue Environment and Outlook
"We reached a major milestone this quarter, with adjusted revenue 3 percent higher and unit revenues up 23 percent compared to 2019, marking the highest revenue and unit revenue quarter in Delta's history. Our results reflect the strength of our brand and diverse revenue streams, with another quarter of record co-brand remuneration and continued premium product outperformance," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta's president. "With corporate travel improving and robust domestic and international demand, we expect December quarter revenue to be up 5 to 9 percent compared to December quarter 2019."
• Consumer demand remains robust with improving demand for international travel: Domestic passenger revenue was 2 percent higher and international passenger revenue was 97 percent recovered compared to the September quarter 2019. International unit revenue growth outpaced domestic for the first time since the pandemic. Transatlantic demand was driven by leisure destinations such as Italy, Spain and Greece and improving business demand, with Transatlantic revenue up 12 percent compared to 2019.
• Business bookings improve post Labor Day: Corporate sales* increased after Labor Day and are at the strongest recovery rates since the start of the pandemic, exiting the quarter at 80 percent of 2019 levels. Recovery in the least restored sectors accelerated, and recent corporate survey results show positive expectations for business travel, with nearly 90 percent of accounts indicating their travel will stay the same or increase in the December quarter compared to the September quarter.
• Premium product outperformance continues: Premium revenue was up 8 percent versus 2019, 10 points higher than the main cabin revenue growth. Premium and other diversified revenue streams, including Loyalty, Cargo and MRO, comprised 54 percent of total revenues.
• Record American Express remuneration supports higher full year outlook: Remuneration for the September quarter was $1.4 billion, 37 percent higher compared to the September quarter 2019 and is now expected to be $5.5 billion for the full year. September quarter co-brand card spend was up 44 percent compared to the September quarter 2019 with co-brand card acquisitions up 17 percent.
• Cargo revenue remains ahead of 2019; MRO revenue surpasses 2019 levels: Cargo revenue was $240 million in the September quarter, a 27 percent increase compared to the same period in 2019. MRO revenue in the September quarter was $221 million, a 4 percent increase compared to 2019.
• Hurricane Ian impact to September and December quarters expected to be similar: The impact of Hurricane Ian on September month revenue was $35 million, driven by cancellations and related booking softness to affected areas. A similar impact is expected in the month of October.
* Corporate sales include tickets sold to corporate contracted customers, including tickets for travel during and beyond the referenced time period
September Quarter Cost Performance and Outlook
"We delivered $1.5 billion of operating profit with a 12 percent operating margin in the September quarter despite costs related to our rebuild efforts as well as inflationary impacts felt across the industry," said Dan Janki, Delta's chief financial officer. "With capacity expected to be 91 to 92 percent restored to 2019 in the December quarter, non-fuel unit costs are expected to be 12 to 13 percent higher, improving 10 points sequentially. Improving asset utilization and efficiency remain key priorities as we move into the final stages of rebuilding the airline and work to drive a competitive cost structure."
• Operating expense of $12.5 billion and total adjusted operating expense of $11.3 billion
• Adjusted non-fuel costs of $7.8 billion
• Non-fuel CASM was 22.5 percent higher than September quarter 2019 on 17 percent less capacity
• Adjusted fuel expense of $3.3 billion was up 45 percent compared to the September quarter 2019
• Adjusted fuel price of $3.53 per gallon includes a refinery benefit of 21¢ per gallon
• Fuel efficiency, defined as gallons per 1,000 ASMs, was 14.8, a 3.0 percent improvement versus 2019
September Quarter Balance Sheet, Cash and Liquidity
"We repaid $1.8 billion of debt during the quarter, bringing year-to-date debt repayment to more than $4 billion," Janki said. "We remain committed to strengthening our balance sheet, targeting adjusted net debt of $15 billion and investment grade metrics by 2024."
• Adjusted net debt of $20.5 billion at quarter end; Weighted average interest rate of 4.5 percent with 83 percent fixed rate debt and 17 percent variable rate debt
• Payments on debt and finance lease obligations of $1.8 billion, bringing year-to-date total to $4.2 billion
• Operating cash flow of $869 million and gross capital expenditures of $1.5 billion
• Air Traffic Liability ended September at $9.1 billion, down $817 million compared to June
• Liquidity of $11.2 billion, including $2.8 billion in undrawn revolver capacity
Fleet and Partner Updates
On July 18, Delta announced it had reached an agreement with The Boeing Company to purchase 100 Boeing 737-10 aircraft, with options for 30 more. Deliveries of the aircraft will begin in 2025. In addition to improved fuel efficiency, these aircraft will have higher gauge and more premium seating. Delta's 737 fleet will grow to over 300 aircraft by 2030, making it one of the company's largest fleet families. The company also announced a service agreement with CFM International to service the more sustainable next-generation LEAP engines. Delta TechOps will be one of a select few maintenance, repair and overhaul providers worldwide for the LEAP-1B engine.
On September 30, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved and granted antitrust immunity to the trans-American Joint Venture Agreement between Delta and LATAM. The carriers' deepened cooperation under the Joint Venture Agreement will improve travel options and services for customers traveling between the U.S./Canada and South America. Both airlines will work closely to deliver the customer benefits that this approval unlocks, including expanded capacity, increased routing options, superior frequent flyer benefits and shared airport facilities and amenities.
On October 11, Delta announced a strategic partnership with Joby Aviation, Inc., an all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) innovator. Delta and Joby share a commitment to delivering a seamless, zero-operating-emission, premium customer experience for eVTOL service. The partnership will leverage Delta's commercial and operational expertise to develop Joby's transformational home-to-airport transportation service for Delta customers.
On October 12, Delta and Starbucks announced a new strategic loyalty partnership between Delta SkyMiles and Starbucks Rewards that allows members to link accounts and unlock more ways to earn rewards. This partnership enables more meaningful connection and gets members of both programs even closer to these brands that they love. Delta is Starbucks' first account linking partner in the U.S., and this will be a strong membership and engagement driver for both brands.
Other September Quarter Highlights
• Significant improvement in operational reliability in the September quarter, driven by schedule adjustments, continued hiring and staffing, better crew availability and process improvements
• September performance prior to Hurricane Ian was the best month of 2022, and we achieved a 99.9 percent Mainline domestic completion factor through September 26, which was no. 1 in our competitive set. On-Time Arrival rate was no. 1 for the full month of September*
Culture and People
• Recorded $291 million of profit-sharing accrual year-to-date, expected to be paid out to Delta employees in February 2023
• Contributed over $500K to the American Red Cross toward Hurricane relief efforts
• Recognized as one of Forbes' Best Workplaces for Women in the U.S. for a second year in a row, with employees giving Delta top marks on the airline's benefits and representation of women in leadership
• Scored 100 percent on the Disability Equality Index for the seventh year in a row ranking it as one of the nation's "Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion"
Customer Experience and Loyalty
• Welcomed record number of new SkyMiles members and achieved record American Express co-brand spend
• Delta SkyMiles was ranked one of U.S. News & World Report's best travel rewards programs for the sixth consecutive year, outperforming all other U.S. global airlines
• Named the best U.S. airline by The Points Guy for the fourth year, with the online travel platform noting Delta's excellence in on-time reliability, a customer-centered experience and an extensive global network
• Launched Delta Business, an all-encompassing travel brand featuring premium benefits, industry-leading services and award-winning account support to elevate every journey
• Unveiled Delta Premium Select enhancements providing a refreshed onboard experience, with elevated dining and premium amenities including an upgraded amenity kit and noise-canceling headsets
• Opened Delta's new Sky Club at Tokyo's Haneda Airport and renovated our Delta Sky Club in Boston
• Announced two nonstop routes from Atlanta to Cape Town and Los Angeles to Tahiti, both beginning December 17, in addition to nonstop service from Atlanta to Tel Aviv beginning March 2023. Atlanta to Cape Town is subject to foreign government approval
• Announced nonstop service from Los Angeles to Haneda and launched new daily service between Honolulu and Haneda, both beginning December 1
Environmental, Social and Governance
• Issued our second Close the Gap report, highlighting increased representation of women, Black talent and other underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in roles across the company while underscoring that work remains to be done, and the company will continue to be transparent about progress
• Engaged more than 50 percent of our officer group in Racial Equity Leadership Workshops, led by the Groundwater Institute
• Validated our Science Based Targets initiative goal to reduce well-to-wake (lifecycle) scope 1 and 3 jet fuel greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent per revenue tonne kilometer by 2035 from a 2019 base year**
• Announced collaboration with MIT to test methods and develop tools to eliminate persistent contrails, which are about 10% of all contrails and thought to be one of aviation's largest environmental impacts
• Partnered with DG Fuels to provide Delta with 55 million gallons of SAF annually for seven years with delivery anticipated to begin by the end of 2027
• In an open letter, Delta challenged Atlanta business leaders to join OneTen, the national coalition aiming to close the opportunity gap for Black talent by taking a skills-first approach to hiring and promotions