Delta posts record 2013 profit

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines posted a record multi-billion dollar profit for 2013, beating previous forecasts and signaling a solid return to healthy financial footing for the mega-carrier.

Delta’s profit for the year came to $2.7 billion, excluding a one-time accounting gain related to taxes and other items. That was $1.1 billion better than 2012 results, according to the company. The 2013 figure included a fourth quarter profit of $558 million.

“Across the board this was an outstanding year,” said Delta chief executive Richard Anderson in written statement.

Operating revenue for the year grew 3 percent to $37.8 billion.

Delta benefited from lower fuel costs last year. But the company’s oil refinery, which had an unexpected shutdown for repairs late last year, didn’t do as well. Delta’s Trainer refinery in Pennsylvania posted a $46 million loss in the fourth quarter and a $116 million loss for the year.

The airline’s overall 2013 fourth quarter results included an unusual accounting gain related to its financial turnaround. The company’s expectations for future profitability led it to record a non-cash gain of $8 billion in the fourth quarter, which reflects the value of tax benefits carried forward from its past years of financial losses.

Looking forward, Delta is increasing its flying by 2 to 3 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period of 2013.