Delta Air Lines Reports September 2009 Quarter Financial Results

ATLANTA, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) today reported financial results for the September 2009 quarter. Key points include:

"Our ability to earn a profit for the quarter shows we are making sound decisions for our business in this difficult economic environment. While we now see encouraging revenue and booking trends, we remain cautious in these early stages of an uncertain recovery," said Richard Anderson, Delta's chief executive officer. "My thanks go out to the Delta people who delivered great customer service, ran a solid operation, and moved forward with our merger integration, all against the backdrop of a very challenging economy."

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Revenue Environment

Delta's operating revenue on a GAAP(3) basis grew 32% to $7.6 billion in the September 2009 quarter compared to the prior year period as a result of its merger with Northwest Airlines. On a combined basis, total operating revenue declined $2.0 billion, or 21%, and total unit revenue (RASM) declined 17%.

On a combined basis:

Comparisons of revenue-related statistics are as follows:

"The global recession drove a significant revenue decline for the quarter, but we see improving trends in load factors, yield and business traffic," said Edward Bastian, Delta's president. "We will continue to exercise capacity restraint, coupled with strong cost control to effectively manage this."

Cost Discipline

In the September 2009 quarter, Delta's operating expense on a GAAP basis increased $1.8 billion year over year due to the impact of the company's merger with Northwest Airlines, partially offset by lower fuel price. On a combined basis, excluding special items, operating expense decreased $2.1 billion due to lower fuel expense, productivity improvements and merger benefits.

On a combined basis:

"Despite our significant capacity reductions, Delta successfully mitigated unit cost pressures through improved productivity, strong cost discipline and accelerating our merger synergies," said Hank Halter, chief financial officer. "While we have additional cost pressures in the fourth quarter from new capacity reductions, we expect to offset most, if not all, of this impact."

Liquidity Position

As of Sept. 30, 2009, Delta had $5.8 billion in unrestricted liquidity, including $5.5 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments and $300 million available in an undrawn revolving credit facility.

During the September 2009 quarter, Delta completed $2.1 billion in new financing transactions, addressing 40% of 2010 debt maturities and generating $600 million in incremental liquidity. The new financing consisted of $1.35 billion of secured notes, a $500 million revolving credit facility and a $250 million term loan facility, all of which were secured by the airline's Pacific routes and related assets.

During the quarter, the company made $1.2 billion of debt and capital lease payments which includes $900 million for the Northwest bank credit facility. In addition the company amended Northwest's revolving credit facility to reduce the total borrowing capacity from $500 million to $300 million.

Capital expenditures during the quarter were approximately $150 million, which includes $75 million for investments in aircraft, parts and modifications.

Merger with Northwest

Through the first three quarters of 2009, Delta has achieved $500 million in synergy benefits from its merger with Northwest Airlines, reaching its 2009 target ahead of plan. The company now expects to generate $700 million in total merger synergies in 2009. Synergies achieved to date include improved revenue from increased market share and Delta's affinity card agreement. In addition, cost reductions have been achieved from streamlined overhead, facilities and technology, elimination of dedicated freighter flying and supply chain savings.

The company is on track in its integration efforts and expects to obtain a Single Operating Certificate by the end of 2009. Recent achievements include:

Fuel Price and Related Hedges

Delta hedged 53% of its fuel consumption for the September 2009 quarter, which resulted in $226 million in realized fuel hedge losses and premiums for the period. As a result, Delta's average fuel price(5) for the September 2009 quarter was $2.13 per gallon, which includes $0.11 per gallon associated with fuel hedge losses.

The table below represents the fuel hedges Delta had in place as of Oct. 16, 2009:

September 2009 Quarter Highlights

During the September 2009 quarter, Delta continued to position itself as the world's No. 1 airline, with an ongoing commitment to employees, customers and communities. Highlights include:

Special Items

Delta recorded special charges totaling $212 million in the September 2009 quarter, including:

Delta recorded special charges totaling $24 million in the September 2008 quarter, including:

December 2009 Quarter Guidance

Delta's projections for the December 2009 quarter are below. This guidance is presented on a combined basis(6).

Other Matters

Included with this press release are Delta's Consolidated Statements of Operations for the three and nine months ended Sept. 30, 2009 and 2008; a statistical summary for those periods; selected balance sheet data as of Sept. 30, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2008; and a reconciliation of certain non-GAAP financial measures.

About Delta

Delta Air Lines is the world's No. 1 airline. From its hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, Salt Lake City, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam and Tokyo-Narita, Delta, its Northwest subsidiary and Delta Connection carriers offer service to 355 destinations in 64 countries and serve more than 170 million passengers each year. Delta's marketing alliances allow customers to earn and redeem SkyMiles on more than 16,000 daily flights offered by SkyTeam and other partners. Delta's more than 70,000 employees worldwide are reshaping the aviation industry as the only U.S. airline to offer a full global network. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and flight status at delta.com.

Endnotes

Submission of Stockholder Proposals

To be considered for inclusion in the Delta proxy statement for the 2010 annual meeting, stockholder proposals must be submitted in writing and received no later than 5:00 p.m., local time, on Dec. 30, 2009 at the following address:

This deadline supersedes the Nov. 9, 2009 deadline contained in Delta's proxy statement for the 2009 annual meeting.

Forward-looking Statements

Statements in this news release that are not historical facts, including statements regarding our estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections or strategies for the future, may be "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections and strategies reflected in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the cost of aircraft fuel; the effects of the global recession; the effects of the global financial crisis; the impact of posting collateral in connection with our fuel hedge contracts; the impact that our indebtedness will have on our financial and operating activities and our ability to incur additional debt; the restrictions that financial covenants in our financing agreements will have on our financial and business operations; labor issues; the ability to realize the anticipated benefits of our merger with Northwest; the integration of the Delta and Northwest workforces; interruptions or disruptions in service at one of our hub airports; our increasing dependence on technology in its operations; our ability to retain management and key employees; the ability of our credit card processors to take significant holdbacks in certain circumstances; the effects of terrorist attacks; and competitive conditions in the airline industry.

Additional information concerning risks and uncertainties that could cause differences between actual results and forward-looking statements is contained in our Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008 and our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2009. Caution should be taken not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements, which represent our views only as of October 22, 2009, and which we have no current intention to update.

Note A: The following tables show reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures. The reasons Delta uses these measures are described below.

Under GAAP, Delta does not include in its financial results the results of Northwest Airlines prior to the completion of the merger. Accordingly, Delta's financial results under GAAP for the September 2008 quarter do not include the results of Northwest Airlines for that period. This impacts the comparability of Delta's financial statements under GAAP for the September 2009 and 2008 quarters.

Delta presents its financial results for the September 2009 and September 2008 quarters under GAAP as well as on a "combined basis." "Combined basis" means the company combines the financial results of Delta and Northwest as if the merger had occurred prior to the beginning of the applicable period. Delta believes presenting this financial information on a combined basis provides a more meaningful basis for comparing Delta's year-over-year financial performance than the GAAP financial information.

This press release also includes guidance for the December 2009 quarter. Please note the year-over-year guidance comparisons assume the 2008 financial statements for the applicable periods were prepared on a combined basis, excluding special items and out-of-period fuel hedge losses. Delta is unable to reconcile certain forward-looking projections to GAAP, including projected consolidated cost per available seat mile (CASM) and Mainline non-fuel CASM, as the nature or amount of special items cannot be estimated at this time.

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