Delta Air Lines Inc. said on Tuesday that it lost $5.4 billion in the third quarter, due mainly to a rise in fuel costs.
The third-quarter loss was smaller than the $6.2 billion loss that the airline had in the same period last year, when it was hit by an $8 billion legal settlement.
The giant loss underscores how Delta and the rest of the airline industry are struggling with higher fuel costs and plunging demand for tickets.
“We are pleased to report the overall unit revenue environment is stabilizing, and we are seeing good progress on our key cost control initiatives,” Glen Hauenstein, president of Delta, said in a statement.
Delta expects to post a significant loss in the fourth quarter, but lower fuel costs, pressure on seat pricing and lower payroll taxes could help the industry keep its profits strong through 2019.
Airlines on average report a $1.5 billion loss in the last three months of the year.
Delta’s shares rose 8.8 percent to $48.48 Tuesday, bouncing back from a more than 5 percent drop earlier in the day. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.2 percent.
Delta said a $1.4 billion decline in fuel prices for the first nine months of the year helped fuel its profit.
And the company’s adjusted third-quarter loss was $1.22 a share. Wall Street analysts were expecting a loss of $1.33 a share, according to a survey by FactSet.
Revenue rose to $9.96 billion, from $9.55 billion, Delta said. Analysts were expecting revenue of $9.94 billion.
Delta expects fourth-quarter unit revenue to rise by 1 percent to 3 percent, and it has cut its forecast for full-year fuel costs to $1.99 a gallon from $2.09.