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February Traffic Slows for Delta

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Leading U.S. passenger carrier Delta Air Lines (DAL - Free Report) posted weak traffic for Feb 2013, due to lackluster performance in the regional arena.

The company’s airline traffic – measured in revenue passenger miles or RPMs, which implies revenue generated per mile per passenger – dropped 2.2% year over year to 12.7 billion. Consolidated capacity (or available seat miles/ASMs) for the month fell 5.0% from Feb 2012 to 16.1 billion.

The load factor or percentage of seats filled by passengers, however, went up 220 basis points from the second month of 2012 to 79.1%. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) also improved 5.0% year over year, supported by higher corporate revenue and efficient operations in the Transatlantic region. The company registered a completion factor of 99.0%, with nearly 86.1% of the flights on schedule.

For the first two months of 2013, Delta generated RPMs of 26.6 billion (down 1.1% year over year) and ASMs of 33.6 billion (down 3.6% year over year), while load factor was 79.2%, up 200 basis points.

Delta – the second largest airline company in the U.S. after United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL - Free Report) – is in constant endeavor to improve operating efficiencies and customer experience. Recently, the company revealed plans to operate summer flights from Montana to Atlanta and Los Angeles, from Jun 22.

With a fleet of over 700 aircraft, Delta is concentrating on stepping into various domestic as well as international spots. The company, currently, serves 19 destinations in 59 countries across six continents.

In the coming quarters, we expect Delta to post revenue and earnings growth aided by various strategic actions that include optimization of fleet, capacity discipline, capturing of new markets and profitable takeovers. These innovative and attractive initiatives along with enhanced service offerings will position the company advantageously compared to other industry players such as JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU - Free Report) .

Delta – which collaborated with top brands like Malin+Goetz and Tumi Holdings Inc. to offer travel luxuries to BusinessElite flyers – carries a Zacks Rank #2, implying a Buy rating.

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