Delta Reports Narrower 4Q Loss of $1.24B

ATLANTA_Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's third-largest carrier, reported Tuesday a narrower fourth-quarter loss on a solid increase in revenue, but its results pushed its red ink to more than $12 billion since January 2001.

The company, which is operating under bankruptcy protection, said it lost $1.24 billion in the three months ending Dec. 31, compared to a loss of $2.21 billion in the same period a year ago.

The airline did not provide per-share data in its balance sheet.

Excluding one-time reorganization and other special items, Delta said it lost $782 million in the October to December quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting a loss of $3.32 a share in the fourth quarter.

Revenue in the quarter rose 6.2 percent to $3.93 billion, compared to $3.70 billion in the same period a year ago.

Delta has now lost $12.3 billion since January 2001.

"Losses of the magnitude that Delta recorded in 2005 are not sustainable," said Edward H. Bastian, Delta's executive vice president and chief financial officer. "These losses emphasize the need for the urgency with which we have to pursue route network and revenue improvements and the use of the bankruptcy process to reduce the cost and complexity of our business."

In its monthly operating report filed with the bankruptcy court, Atlanta-based Delta reported a net loss of $753 million in December on disbursements of $1.76 billion. The company said it ended the year with $2 billion in unrestricted cash on hand.

Delta said it spent $1.13 billion on aircraft fuel in the fourth quarter, 26 percent more than the $895 million it spent in the same period a year ago. For all of 2005, it spent $4.27 billion on aircraft fuel, 46 percent more than the $2.92 billion it spent in 2004.

Delta, meanwhile, is still trying to reach a comprehensive agreement with its pilots on a second round of pay and benefit cuts. The company has been seeking $325 million in concessions, but has offered to reduce that to $315 million. The pilots are currently offering about $115 million in new annual concessions. The cuts would be on top of $1 billion in annual concessions the pilots agreed to in a five-year deal in 2004.

The airline filed for Chapter 11 in New York in September.

For all of 2005, Delta said it lost $3.84 billion, compared to a loss of $5.22 billion in 2004. Twelve-month revenue rose to $16.19 billion, compared to $15.24 billion in the previous year.

The fourth-quarter and full-year losses included dividends that accrued for preferred shareholders but were not paid.


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