Delta Air Lines Reports A Full Year Profit For 2021

Delta has today reported a full-year profit for 2021. According to the airline’s latest filing, its GAAP net income was $280 million, still a significant way below the $4.8 billion reported for 2019. The news was welcome after the financial suffering that many airlines faced in 2020 due to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Delta Air Lines, Full Year Profit, Omicron
Delta Air Lines has posted a profit for the entire year of 2021. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

All in all, 2021 was a good year for American carriers. Most, if not all, managed to return to profitability at some point during the year, mainly spurred by a resurgence in domestic travel. However, it is not all rainbows yet, with the Omicron variant affecting schedules due to associated staff sickness.

Significant progress made

Commenting on Delta’s 2021, the airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian, revealed that the airline had made significant progress in its recovery from COVID-19’s impact. As a result, the airline will be sharing some of its profit with employees with a payment made to eligible employees.

The airline noted strong holiday demand as a contributing factor to domestic revenue recovery. According to the airline, domestic holiday revenue reached 78% of what the airline had seen in 2019. The recovery is being led by the airlines’ premium cabins, With domestic premium revenues sitting at 84% of Q4 2019. In addition, the airline has also seen its cargo revenue grow across five quarters in a row.

Delta Air Lines, Full Year Profit, Omicron
The airline saw revenues recover to around 80% of pre-pandemic levels. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

According to the carrier, it operated 134.7 billion revenue passenger seat miles during the past year. With 194.5 billion available seat miles, the airline’s passenger load factor averaged out at 69% for the whole year. This sat slightly higher at 78% for the last quarter alone. Delta Air Lines ended the year with a liquidity of $14.2 billion.

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A 60-day road bump

Delta Air Lines is undoubtedly over the moon that a variant not sharing its name has taken the spotlight. However, while Omicron doesn’t share a name with the airline, it will slightly impact the recovery. Commenting on the airline’s Q4 results, Bastian said,

“Omicron is expected to temporarily delay the demand recovery 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.”

Delta Air Lines, Full Year Profit, Omicron
The airline is expecting a 60-day road bump from Omicron. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Delta revealed that its total revenue had recovered to around 80% of 2019 figures during the last quarter of the year. While the impact of Omicron will be felt, Delta isn’t expecting it to be as bad as previous waves. The airline revealed it expects revenues for the coming quarter to sit between 72% and 76% of those seen in 2019.

What do you make of Delta’s full-year results for 2021? Will the Omicron variant be just a small hiccup? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!