Delta Air Lines Reports 1Q Loss of $2.1B

ATLANTA_Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's third-largest carrier, reported Thursday a first-quarter loss of $2.1 billion, plunging the bankrupt airline deeper into red ink.

The Atlanta-based airline has now lost more than $14 billion since January 2001.

The results from the three months ended March 31 compare with a loss of $1.1 billion logged in the same period a year ago.

The losses include several one-time items, including a $1.4 billion charge primarily from reworking financing agreements for 124 aircraft and $310 million in accounting adjustments.

Excluding those one-time costs, Delta said it lost $356 million in the January to March quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting a loss of $2.15 a share in the first quarter. The company did not provide per-share data in its balance sheet.

Gerald Grinstein, Delta's chief executive officer, said the company's performance met internal expectations, particularly in light of fast-rising fuel costs.

"Despite these higher fuel costs, however, our company succeeded in reducing the first-quarter operating loss by nearly 50 percent year-over-year - evidence that Delta's plan is on-track," he said.

Excluding special costs, revenue in the quarter rose 5.5 percent despite an 8.6 percent decrease in capacity.

The airline has been operating under bankruptcy protection since September. It said it will post a $1.6 billion loss in March, but only $6 million in losses excluding restructuring and one-time charges.

Delta is required to file a monthly operating report to the bankruptcy court in New York's Southern District.

It asked a bankruptcy judge this week to approve a sweeping agreement with pilots that calls for $280 million in annual contract concessions, saying the threat of a strike had cost the carrier millions of dollars each week.

Delta and its pilots had agreed to $1 billion in annual concessions - including a 32.5 percent wage cut - in a five-year deal in 2004. It then sought an additional $325 million in cuts from its nearly 6,000 pilots, who threatened to strike as an April 15 deadline loomed.


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