Delta Air Lines Announces March Quarter 2022 Financial Results

March quarter 2022 GAAP operating loss of $783 million and loss per share of $1.48 on total operating revenue of $9.3 billion

March quarter 2022 adjusted operating loss of $793 million and adjusted loss per share of $1.23 on adjusted operating revenue of $8.2 billion

With an improving demand environment, achieved a solid operating margin in the month of March

ATLANTA, April 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) today reported financial results for the March quarter 2022 and provided its outlook for the June quarter 2022. Highlights of the March quarter 2022 results, including both GAAP and adjusted metrics, are on page five and are incorporated here.

 

"With a strong rebound in demand as omicron faded, we returned to profitability in the month of March, producing a solid adjusted operating margin of almost 10 percent.  As our brand preference and demand momentum grow, we are successfully recapturing higher fuel prices, driving our outlook for a 12 to 14 percent adjusted operating margin and strong free cash flow in the June quarter," said Ed Bastian, Delta's chief executive officer.  "I would like to thank the Delta people, who once again enabled our best-in-class operational performance, provided an unmatched customer experience and continue to power our industry leadership each and every day."

March Quarter 2022 Financial Results 

  • Adjusted operating loss of $793 million excludes a net gain of $9 million
  • Pre-tax loss of $1.2 billion with adjusted pre-tax loss of $1.0 billion, excluding a net expense of $164 million
  • Adjusted operating revenue of $8.2 billion, which excludes third-party refinery sales, was 79 percent recovered versus March quarter 2019 on capacity that was 83 percent restored
  • Total operating expense of $10.1 billion increased $679 million compared to the March quarter 2019
  • Adjusted for costs primarily from third-party refinery sales, total operating expense of $9.0 billion decreased $400 million or 4 percent in the March quarter 2022 versus the comparable 2019 period
  • Generated $1.8 billion of operating cash flow and $197 million of free cash flow, after investing $1.6 billion into the business, primarily related to aircraft purchases and modifications
  • At the end of the March quarter, the company had $12.8 billion in liquidity, including cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments and undrawn revolving credit facilities

June Quarter 2022 Outlook

2Q22 Forecast

Capacity 1

~84%

Total Revenue 1, 2

93% - 97%

CASM-Ex 1, 2

Up ~17%

Fuel Price ($/gal) 2, 3

$3.20 - $3.35

Operating Margin 2

12% - 14%

Gross Capital Expenditures 2

~$1.2 billion

Adjusted Net Debt 2

~$20 billion

1 Compared to June quarter 2019

2 Non-GAAP measure; Refer to Non-GAAP reconciliations for 2Q19 comparison figures

3 Fuel guidance based on prices as of April 8th  (Brent at $102, cracks at $30, $0.20 refinery contribution with RINS at $1.27)

Revenue Environment

"Delta is well-positioned to capitalize on robust consumer demand and an accelerating return of business and international travel. The strength of Delta's brand has never been more evident with record-setting performance for co-brand card acquisitions, co-brand spend and SkyMiles acquisitions in March," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta's president. "In the June quarter, we are successfully recapturing higher fuel prices and expect our revenue recovery to accelerate to 93 to 97 percent with unit revenue up double digits compared to 2019."

Adjusted operating revenue of $8.2 billion for the March quarter 2022 was 79 percent restored to March quarter 2019 levels, 5 points ahead of the mid-point of the company's initial guidance. Compared to the March quarter 2019, total passenger revenue was 75 percent recovered on system capacity that was 83 percent restored.  Domestic passenger revenue was 83 percent recovered, and international passenger revenue was 54 percent restored in the March quarter. 

Consumer demand accelerated through the quarter, highlighted by strong spring break performance.  As omicron faded, offices reopened and travel restrictions were lifted, resulting in an improvement in business travel demand and a stronger fare environment.

Revenue-related Highlights:

  • Unit revenue exceeds 2019 levels in March month for the first time in two years: March quarter adjusted total unit revenue (TRASM) was 5 percent lower than the same period in 2019. As demand improved, March month adjusted TRASM inflected to positive versus 2019, marking the first month of positive unit revenue versus 2019 since the start of the pandemic. This strength was led by premium revenue and diversified revenue streams, including loyalty and cargo.
  • Business travel recovery boosted by improvement in corporate: Domestic corporate sales* for the quarter were ~50 percent recovered, with March improving to ~70 percent versus 2019. International corporate sales for the quarter were ~35 percent recovered, with March improving to ~50 percent versus 2019. Internationally, Transatlantic improved the most as European countries reopened.
  • Premium cabin revenue recovery outpacing Main Cabin: Premium products continued to lead the recovery with Domestic premium revenue approximately 100 percent restored to 2019 levels in the month of March. Domestic and Latin premium product revenue recovery outpaced Main Cabin by approximately 10 points during the March quarter.
     
    *Corporate sales include tickets sold to corporate contracted customers, including tickets for travel during and beyond the referenced time period
  • American Express remuneration 25 percent higher than 2019 levels: American Express remuneration of $1.2 billion in the quarter was up 25 percent compared to March quarter 2019. Co-brand spend was up 35 percent compared to March quarter 2019, reflecting a significant increase in T&E spend, with air travel spend outpacing lodging in the month of March for the first time since 2019. Co-brand acquisitions were nearly 95 percent recovered compared to March quarter 2019.
  • Cargo strength continues with record revenue month in March: Cargo revenue was $289 million for the March quarter, a 51 percent increase compared to the same period in 2019 on strong demand and yields.

Cost Performance

"Thanks to the team's hard work, we maintained a competitive cost structure in the March quarter amid a dynamic operating environment, an important driver of our financial recovery," said Dan Janki, Delta's chief financial officer.  "As demand continues to recover and we restore additional capacity in the second half of the year, we expect our non-fuel unit cost comparisons to 2019 will improve to up mid-single digits, keeping us within our full year non-fuel unit cost guidance range. Our intense focus on non-fuel costs will serve us well moving ahead as we scale the airline and better utilize our fleet and our facilities."

Total adjusted operating expense of $9.0 billion in the March quarter 2022 increased 11 percent sequentially, driven by higher fuel prices and costs from the continued restoration of the airline. Adjusted fuel expense was $2.1 billion in the March quarter 2022. Adjusted fuel price of $2.79 per gallon was up 33 percent compared to the December quarter 2021 driven by higher market prices, including a 7¢ refinery contribution.

Adjusted non-fuel cost of $6.9 billion was up 6 percent sequentially. This was primarily driven by a normalization in maintenance expense. Compared to the March quarter of 2019, non-fuel unit costs (CASM-Ex) were 15 percent higher on 17 percent less capacity.

Balance Sheet, Cash and Liquidity

"During the March quarter we generated free cash flow, continued to pay down debt and finished the quarter with nearly $13 billion in liquidity," Janki said. "Reducing debt is our top financial priority as we target investment-grade metrics and $15 billion of adjusted net debt by the end of 2024."

At the end of the March quarter 2022, the company had total debt and finance lease obligations of $25.6 billion with adjusted net debt of $20.9 billion and a weighted average interest rate of 4.3 percent. During the quarter, the company repaid $1.4 billion of gross debt.

Operating cash flow during the March quarter 2022 was $1.8 billion. Free cash flow was $197 million for the quarter with $1.6 billion of gross capital expenditures reinvested in the business. The company's Air Traffic Liability was $9.1 billion at March quarter-end, up $2.8 billion compared to the end of the December quarter and up $2.5 billion compared to the March quarter 2019. 

Delta ended the March quarter with $12.8 billion in liquidity, including $2.9 billion in undrawn revolver capacity. 

Fleet and Partner Updates

In the March quarter, Aeroméxico emerged from its bankruptcy proceedings and in connection with the consummation of the transaction, Delta now holds a 20 percent equity stake in the reorganized company. Delta will recognize the 20 percent share of Aeroméxico's results under the equity accounting method within non-operating expense in the company's income statement beginning in the June quarter.

As part of Delta's fleet renewal initiatives, the company took delivery of its first A321neo aircraft at the end of March 2022 and expects to take delivery of 26 A321neos in total this year. The introduction of these next-generation aircraft to the fleet contributes to Delta's 2022 goal of using at least 6 percent less fuel per available seat mile compared to 2019. In total, Delta has committed to purchase 155 A321neos through 2027.

Other Highlights from the March Quarter 2022

Culture and People

  • Awarded a special profit-sharing payment of $1,250 to eligible employees in appreciation for extraordinary efforts resulting in a profitable second half of 2021
  • Announced a 4 percent base pay increase for eligible employees worldwide, effective May 1, 2022
  • Recognized by Glassdoor as one of its Best Places to Work for a 6th year in a row. Delta was the highest-ranking U.S. airline on the list and ranked No. 18 on the 2022 list of 100 large companies
  • Honored by Fortune as one of the World's Most Admired Companies for the 9th year in a row, and ranked higher than any other airline on the list
  • Hosted celebrations with employees and family of Team USA Olympic and Paralympic athletes traveling on Delta planes to and from the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing

Customer Experience and Loyalty

  • Ranked No. 1 U.S. airline by the Wall Street Journal, including the best performance in on-time arrivals, completion factor, preventing extreme delays and the lowest levels of U.S. DOT complaints
  • Unveiled major airport infrastructure milestones at Delta's Los Angeles and Seattle global hubs, as part of a $12 billion, decade-long effort to modernize and elevate the customer journey
  • Increased flexibility by extending ticket validity through year-end 2023 and rolling over all Medallion Qualification Miles from 2021 to 2022
  • Enhanced in-flight experience with the return of hot meals on flights over 900 miles in First Class, and introduced plant-based and vegetarian menu items
  • Reintroduced and refreshed Delta One services with multi-step, three-course meal service, more pre-departure beverage options, new cocktail bites and more dessert options
  • Announced summer service schedule to Europe, with more than 500 weekly flights to Europe, including new flights between New York-JFK and Stockholm, Salt Lake City and London-Heathrow and restarting service from New York-JFK to Zurich, Brussels, Edinburgh, Copenhagen and Prague

Environmental, Social and Governance

  • Released Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report outlining progress against the company's commitments to advancing racial justice and diversity within its business
  • Published a Climate Lobbying Report detailing global advocacy activities and policy engagements that support and complement Delta's Paris Agreement-aligned climate goals
  • Expanded partnership with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) maker Gevo to increase supply of SAF and bring Delta closer to the goal of fueling 10 percent of its airline operation with SAF by the end of 2030
  • Announced collaboration with Airbus on industry-leading research to accelerate the development of hydrogen-powered aircraft
  • Created first Propel Collegiate Pilot Career Path Program with Hampton University, the airline's first such partnership with a historically Black university
  • Contributed $1 million to the American Red Cross and Global Red Cross Movement in support of humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine
  • Launched new, more sustainable onboard products; together the new products are expected to reduce single-use plastic onboard by approximately 4.9 million pounds annually

March Quarter Results

March quarter results have been adjusted primarily for the unrealized losses on investments, loss on extinguishment of debt and third-party refinery sales as described in the reconciliations in Note A.

GAAP

$ Change

% Change

($ in millions except per share and unit costs)

1Q22

1Q19

Operating (loss)/income

(783)

1,020

(1,803)

NM

Pre-tax (loss)/income

(1,200)

946

(2,146)

NM

Net (loss)/income

(940)

730

(1,670)

NM

(Loss)/diluted earnings per share

(1.48)

1.09

(2.57)

NM

Operating revenue

9,348

10,472

(1,124)

(11) %

Total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) (cents)

18.04

16.78

1.26

8 %

Operating expense

10,131

9,452

679

7 %

Operating cash flow

1,771

1,942

(171)

(9) %

Capital expenditures

1,766

1,360

406

30 %

Cost per available seat mile (CASM) (cents)

19.56

15.14

4.42

29 %

Fuel expense

2,092

1,978

114

6 %

Average fuel price per gallon

2.79

2.06

0.73

35 %

Total debt and finance lease obligations

25,557

10,764

14,793

NM

Adjusted

$ Change

% Change

($ in millions except per share and unit costs)

1Q22

1Q19

Operating (loss)/income

(793)

1,026

(1,819)

NM

Pre-tax (loss)/income

(1,037)

831

(1,868)

NM

Net (loss)/income

(784)

639

(1,423)

NM

(Loss)/diluted earnings per share

(1.23)

0.96

(2.19)

NM

Operating revenue

8,161

10,381

(2,219)

(21) %

TRASM (cents)

15.75

16.63

(0.88)

(5) %

Operating expense

8,954

9,354

(400)

(4) %

Free cash flow

197

751

(553)

(74) %

Gross capital expenditures

1,565

1,511

54

4 %

Non-fuel cost

6,858

7,171

(313)

(4) %

Consolidated unit cost (CASM-Ex) (cents)

13.24

11.49

1.75

15 %

Fuel expense

2,097

1,963

133

7 %

Average fuel price per gallon

2.79

2.04

0.75

37 %

Adjusted net debt

20,863

10,198

10,664

NM

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