Delta Air Lines' (NYSE: DAL) cargo volume fell 10.5% in September to 167.8 million freight ton miles, in line with the year-to-date fall of 9% to 1.5 billion freight ton miles, the Atlanta-based carrier reported on Oct. 2.
The company is on track for 15.5% pre-tax profit margins in the third quarter, up about 1.75% from the same period a year ago, it said in an investor update. Total revenue for the quarter ending in September is expected to be up 6.5%, in line with initial guidance provided in July.
Non-fuel costs for the quarter are expected to be up about 2.5% year-over-year, compared to 1% in the guidance, because of employee costs, record passenger volumes and weather. For the full year, non-fuel unit costs are now expected to be up approximately 2% including anticipated fourth-quarter pressure from changes to actuarial assumptions, employee wage increases and maintenance timing, Delta said.
Officials have previously said that increased passenger volumes, partly due to other airlines canceling flights scheduled with now-grounded Boeing 737 MAX jets, took a toll on Delta's system and forced it to pay workers more overtime to keep operations running smoothly.
Delta carried almost 16.5 million passengers in September, an 8% increase from a year ago, with a load factor of 85%. Passenger boardings are up 6.2% year-to-date to 154.2 million. Revenue passenger miles, a basic industry measurement, are up 7% to 114.4 billion.
Delta reports earnings on Oct. 10. The stock was down 6% to $53.56 in mid-day trading on Oct. 2, due in part to concerns about Delta's higher costs.
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