Delta Air Lines boosted its profit forecast for 2019 as blistering travel demand, lower fuel costs and a grounded Boeing 737 MAX gave it the muscle to command higher fares.
The world’s third-largest airline expects to earn as much as $7.25 per share this year, above its pervious $6 to $7 per share estimate, Delta said Thursday as it reported second-quarter earnings.
The raised expectations came a day after rival American Airlines boosted its own outlook, citing the same market trends.
The gains reported by two major airlines show that Americans’ fervor to fly remains unchecked amid strong U.S. economic data, while Boeing’s troubles with its workhorse jet have carried a silver lining for the industry by tightening seat supply.
“The outlook is strong in terms of continued top-line growth,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said. Five of Atlanta-based Delta’s top 10 record revenue-generation days have occurred in the past 30 days, he said.
The MAX grounding offered Delta “a marginal benefit” on domestic summer capacity, which is 1 percent to 2 percent lower industrywide than was planned before regulators banned the plane from flying, Bastian said.
“We are always looking to take share wherever we can,” he said of travelers who might have moved to Delta. “There’s no question we benefited somewhat from that.”