Delta Air Lines Q1 results: we’ve never seen demand this high in our history

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Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE: DAL) shares are up 5.0% on Wednesday after the U.S. air carrier reported solid results for its fiscal first quarter. Load factor, however, was below expectations.

Key takeaways from Delta Air Lines’ Q1 results

$940 million loss was much worse than last year’s $730 million in net income.Per-share loss stood at $1.48 versus the year-ago figure of $1.09 of EPS.Adjusted for one-time items, per-share loss printed at $1.23 in fiscal Q1.At $9.35 billion, first quarter revenue came in at 89.3% of 2019 levels.FactSet consensus was for $1.26 of per-share loss on $8.77 billion in revenue.Load factor slid 8.0% to 75% versus 78.8% that analysts had anticipated.Traffic was down 25% and capacity slipped 17% in the recent quarter.Delta Air Lines noted a 33% increase on the fuel price on an adjusted basis.

Discussing the quarterly results on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, CEO Ed Bastian said:

The demand is phenomenal. We’ve never seen in our company’s history demand for our product and services at this level. In March, we had the highest sales in terms of bookings of any month in our history and this is continuing into April.

Guidance for the current quarter

For the current fiscal quarter, Delta forecast revenue to climb back to between 93% and 97% of 2019 levels, as per the earnings press release. In comparison, analysts had called for a recovery to 90.6%. CEO Bastian added:

We’ve been getting out ahead of the staffing issue for the 1.5 years. Since the start of 2021, we’ve hired 15,000 people onto Delta at all levels. So, our team is ready to serve; we’re well staffed for the summer.

Delta is operating at 85% of its capacity versus 2019 levels at present due to international restrictions and the chief executive expects it to hit 100% by the end of the year in the best-case scenario.

The stock has recovered more than 30% in just over a month.

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