In the quarter, Delta cut flight capacity by 1 percent but planes were slightly fuller, leaving passenger traffic roughly flat. About 2,000 employees took buyouts offered by the airline earlier this year and Delta in September laid off about 200 administrative employees.
The company ended the third quarter with $5.1 billion in unrestricted liquidity, including $3.3 billion in cash and $1.8 billion in undrawn credit lines. At the end of last year's third quarter, Delta had $5.5 billion in unrestricted liquidity, including $3.9 billion in cash and $1.6 billion in undrawn credit lines.
Looking forward, Delta is cutting its flight capacity by 4 to 5 percent for the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year ago and expects the quarter to be profitable. Next year, the airline will cut capacity by 2 to 3 percent.
Meanwhile, Delta has been adding more extras that it can charge customers for, such as a premium economy section for a fee. The airline seeks to make an additional $1 billion in revenue from such merchandising by 2013.
Standard & Poor's analyst Jim Corridore issued a note to investors saying the firm expects Delta to benefit next year from capacity discipline, attempts to hike fares and good demand for air travel, "while oil remains a wild card."