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Delta says Sandy cut $25M from November profit

Joshua Freed, AP Airlines Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Delta Air Lines Inc. said on Tuesday that Superstorm Sandy sliced $25 million from its November profits, bringing its total storm bill to $45 million.

The storm shut down Northeast airports and caused airlines to cancel more than 20,000 flights. It hit the New York area on Oct. 29, and airline disruptions lasted into early November.

Delta said November revenue was hurt by $30 million, on top of a $45 million revenue hit in October. Delta had previously said that Sandy hurt October profits by $20 million.

Delta said unit revenues — a key metric that measures how much it collects per seat, per mile — rose 2.5 percent in November compared to October 2011. The gain was one percentage point lower because of the storm, Delta said.

The storm also slowed down the re-opening of Delta's newly purchased oil refinery in Trainer, Pa. As a result, it said it now expects to spend $3.20 to $3.25 per gallon on jet fuel in the fourth quarter. Previously it had hoped to pay $3.15 to $3.20. Delta bought the refinery with the aim of reducing its fuel bill.

Delta's November traffic rose 1.2 percent to 14.48 billion revenue passenger miles, or one paying passenger flown one mile. Domestic traffic fell 0.8 percent, while international traffic rose 4.8 percent.

Flying capacity — seats times miles — fell 0.2 percent to 17.56 billion available seat miles.

Because traffic grew even as the airlines reduced the number of available seats, its planes were fuller. Load factor rose 1.1 percent to 82.5 percent.

Through the first 11 months of the year, Delta's traffic rose 0.1 percent to 178.2 billion revenue passenger miles. Capacity fell 1.8 percent to 212.56 billion available seat miles. Load factor was up1.5 percentage points to 83.8 percent.

Shares of the Atlanta-based airline rose 13 cents to $9.75 in morning trading, after falling Monday on news that Delta might be interested in a stake in Virgin Atlantic.