Delta reports record second-quarter revenue as travel demand soars

The airline is also ordering 12 more Airbus A220-300 aircraft, bringing its fleet to 131 A220s
Travelers are seen in the domestic terminal of Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta on Friday, June 30, 2023. (Arvin Temkar /



Travelers are seen in the domestic terminal of Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta on Friday, June 30, 2023. (Arvin Temkar /

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines reported record second-quarter revenues Thursday of $15.6 billion, as the number of people taking to the skies to travel reaches new heights.

Demand is particularly strong for international travel, said Delta CEO Ed Bastian in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Every market that we fly in Europe is really strong,” Bastian said. “When you have high demand, that pushes ticket prices high.”

After skyrocketing air fares last year, domestic fares have moderated some. But “pricing compared to a year ago is up internationally,” Bastian said.

“Travel demand is strong and the consumer is in good financial shape, particularly the premium consumer base that we targeted,” he said.

The airline’s revenue in the quarter that ended June 30 was up 13% year-over-year, with record airline industry passenger volumes on June 30. That day, which was the Friday before the July 4 holiday travel period, was also Delta’s highest summer revenue day in the airline’s history.

Delta brought in $1.8 billion in net income the second quarter, up from $735 million a year ago. The profits are allowing the company to rack up cash to go toward annual profit-sharing payments for employees next February. The company also boosted its outlook for profits this year.

For travelers, record travel volumes have also meant long lines, congestion and frustration, as the industry struggles to keep up with the demand.

“Aviation infrastructure is still fragile, and the industry continues to face multiple constraints across the supply chain, aircraft delivery delays and training needs,” Bastian acknowledged.

The company’s second-quarter operating expense was $13.1 billion, up 6% from a year ago. That includes a 22% decline in aircraft fuel costs and a 25% increase in salaries and related costs.

The gap between supply and demand in the airline industry will likely continue “for an extended period of time,” Bastian said.

Delta president Glen Hauenstein said the airline is focusing on Atlanta in its efforts to rebuild flight capacity to meet demand.

Also Thursday, Delta announced it is exercising options to order 12 more Airbus A220-300 aircraft, which will give it a fleet of 131 A220s. The 12 additional 130-seat planes will be delivered in 2027 and 2028.

Another big focus for Delta this year has been the providing of free in-flight Wi-Fi across its fleet for SkyMiles members. That plan ran into a potential hiccup this week.

Delta in-flight Wi-Fi provider Viasat said Wednesday it had an “unexpected event” during deployment of a reflector on its ViaSat-3 Americas satellite.

Viasat, which has 12 other Ka-band satellites in space, said it was working on contingency plans “to minimize the economic effect to the company,” including redeploying satellites from its fleet to improve coverage.

Bastian said Delta was “disappointed” with the news. “But we’re committed long-term, and they will get through this,” he said.

The Delta CEO said he sees no meaningful impact to the airline’s domestic Wi-Fi capacity, while adding that “it may cause a delayed rollout on some of the international markets — but it’s too early to tell.”