Delta Air Lines lost $25 million during the fourth quarter and $1.2 billion in all of 2009, a year when airlines saw dramatic drops in travel and Delta took big losses on pre-set fuel contracts when prices fell.
The full-year results included $1.4 billion in losses on those fuel contracts, called hedges, along with other special items. Excluding those factors, Delta said it would have had a profit of $291 million for the year. In 2008, Delta lost $8.9 billion, including accounting write-downs due to record fuel prices.
Operating revenue for 2009 was $28 billion, down from $34 billion a year earlier. Delta ended the year with $5.4 billion in available cash or other forms of liquidity, due in part to financing deals.
The fourth-quarter net loss amounted to 3 cents per share, compared with a year-ago quarterly loss of $1.4 billion including expenses of its merger with Northwest Airlines and other one-time items. Without those items, Delta said it would have lost $225 million, or 27 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.
Operating revenue was $6.8 billion in the quarter, down from $7.8 billion.
During an investor conference call, Delta chief executive Richard Anderson said 2009 was "one of the most difficult years we've faced in the airline industry.
Airlines saw a severe decline in lucrative business travel and adjusted by cutting flights and adding more fees.
"We'll continue to have a strong focus on growing our ancillary revenues in our business to temper the volatility in our core," Anderson said.
Anderson said the airline doesn't plan additional job cuts beyond consolidation from the Northwest merger. "Much of the productivity can be gleaned through attrition and non-employee related expenses and the investments we're making in technology," he said.
For the first quarter of 2010, Delta said it expects capacity to be down 3 percent to 5 percent compared with a year ago, including a 5 percent to 7 percent reduction in international capacity.
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