Delta’s 1Q profit falls, but airline forecasts rising prices

David Goldman, File, Associated Press

FILE – In this Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, file photo, a Delta Air Lines sign overlooks the unloading area at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, in Atlanta. Delta Air Lines reported financial earnings, Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

DALLAS — Rising labor and fuel costs cut into Delta’s first-quarter profit, but the airline expects help this spring from higher average prices.

Delta said Wednesday that it expects a key revenue measure to rise by between 1 and 3 percent in the second quarter compared with a year earlier. That is a sign that after falling for two years, average fares are heading back up.

Shares of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. rose 68 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $45.97 in afternoon trading.

The airline’s executives offered their most detailed comments yet about last week’s breakdown that led to 4,000 canceled flights and inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of travelers. Executives said the episode will cost Delta $125 million.

Delta leaders like to boast about the number of days they go without canceling a flight — 64 during January, February and March, they said. More than pride is at stake. Delta claims that its reputation for reliability allows it to charge a premium — prices that are 9 percent higher on average than competitors.

When thunderstorms rolled through Atlanta last Wednesday, Delta shut down operations at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for most of the day.

“The storm hit our largest hub during spring break, one of the busiest weeks of the season, and it took us several days to fully recover the operation,” CEO Ed Bastian said on a conference call with analysts and reporters.

The effects of the storm lingered through Sunday as planes and crews were trapped out of…

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