Delta Triples Q4 Earnings, Tops US$5 Billion In Full-Year Profit

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Steven Larkin

Delta Air Lines released financial results for the December quarter and full year 2018 today, showing a strong surge in revenue throughout the latter part of last year.

Delta’s Q4 earnings showed a surge of growth for the airline, beating Wall Street’s expectations. The company’s net income before tax for the quarter was US$1 billion, up from $299 million a year earlier.

The airline’s total operating revenue for the December quarter was $10.7 billion, improved 5% versus the prior year.

Looking at the full year, adjusted pre-tax income was US$5.1 billion, a $137 million decrease relative to 2017 as the company overcame approximately 90% of the $2 billion increase in fuel expense.

“[This is Delta’s] fifth year of $5 billion-plus (in net income), so sentiment is quite strong and will disperse over $1 billion in profit share or 14% of gross salary,” said Steven Larkin, Director Sales, Canada for DL, in a statement to Open Jaw. “Delta people are feeling quite good,” Larkin added.

Total passenger revenue last year increased 7% over 2017, with a particular boost in the domestic sector, which saw 7.7% growth. 

In 2018, Delta achieved a number of milestones. Of particular note were:


  • Delta was the recipient of the Glassdoor Employee’s Choice Award for the fourth consecutive year, based entirely on input provided by employees, reiterating the importance of the Delta culture. 
  • The company announced sustainability improvements including removal of a variety of single-use plastic items from Delta’s aircraft and clubs, eliminating more than 300,000 pounds in plastic waste annually.
  • Throughout 2018, the airline delivered 143 days of zero system cancellations across the combined mainline and Delta Connection operations on a full year basis, up considerably from 2017, when it had 90 days.
  • FlightGlobal recognized DL as the ‘Most On-time North American Mainline Airline,’ ‘Most On-time North American Network Airline,’ and ‘Most On-time International Mainline Airline.’
  • Ranked as the No. 1 U.S. airline by the corporate travel community in the Business Travel News Airline Survey for a historic eighth consecutive year, sweeping all 10 categories.


As it moves into 2019, Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian says the airline expects to drive double-digit earnings growth through higher revenues, maintaining a cost trajectory below inflation, and a modest benefit from lower fuel costs.

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