Delta reports $4.5 billion profit for 2015

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Secondary photo - January 14, 2015 Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport: A Delta jst takes off past the control tower Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has lost one of its two titles for world's busiest airport, with Chicago O'Hare taking the title for the most flights, according to year-end data from Flight Aware. Atlanta still carries millions more passengers, but for many years it held both titles. The decline in takeoffs and landings in Atlanta came as Delta Airlines retires regional jets and replaces them with larger planes, while Southwest Airlines cut back on AirTran flights here. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines reported a $4.5 billion profit for 2015, as low fuel costs boosted its bottom line despite weakness in revenue.

The results included a $980 million profit for the fourth quarter, though its earnings per share missed analysts’ expectations.

The results are an improvement compared with Delta’s $659 million in net income for 2014, which included a $712 million net loss for the fourth quarter of 2014.

Delta CEO Richard Anderson in a written statement called the company’s 2015 performance “a record for Delta on all fronts.”

The company also plans to pay its employees a total of $1.5 billion in profit sharing for the year.

Delta

Even in a record year, Delta laid off some administrative employees in 2015 and reduced its formula for future profit sharing, while increasing pay.

While fuel costs have been low, international volatility and other weakness in revenue are putting pressure on Delta’s results. Delta’s share price has declined compared with where it stood at the start of the year.

For the fourth quarter, Delta saw a 2 percent decline in operating revenue to $9.5 billion.

Looking ahead, the airline expects to see a 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent decline in passenger unit revenue in the first quarter of 2016, as it increases flying by 2 to 3 percent.

Delta said it could save $3 billion from lower fuel prices in 2016 to improve its results, along with cost cuts and other moves.

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