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Delta Air Lines’ (DAL) July Traffic & Load Factor Increase


Shares of Delta Air Lines, Inc. DAL have been struggling ever since it reported lower-than-expected second-quarter revenues and earnings per share last month. In fact, the stock has declined 7.9% in the last one month compared with its industry’s fall of 4.9%.

Amid this gloomy backdrop, this Atlanta, GA-based company received good news when it reported encouraging traffic data for the month of July.Consolidated traffic – measured in revenue passenger miles (RPMs) – came in at 21.73 billion, up 2.7% year over year. The upside was driven by a 4.8% increase in domestic RPMs.

In fact, consolidated capacity (or available seat miles/ASMs) expanded 1.5% to 24.65 billion on a year-over-year basis. However, the metric declined 1% on the international front mainly due to a 6.9% reduction in the metric in the Pacific area.

Consolidated load factor, or percentage of seats filled by passengers, improved 100 basis points to 88.1%. This is because traffic growth outweighed capacity expansion in July leading to packed planes. Additionally, the airline recorded an 83.1% on-time performance and 99.9% completion factor (mainline) for the same month.

At the end of the first seven months of 2017, Delta generated consolidated RPMs of 127.6 billion (up 1.6% year over year) and ASMs of 148.75 billion (up 0.2% year over year). Notably, load factor was 85.6%versus 84.4% recorded in the same period last year.

Apart from the traffic report, Delta was also in the news recently when it announced its decision to invest €375 million in Air France-KLM SA AFLYY, thereby strengthening its ties with the latter.

In fact, Delta has been constantly looking to expand its operations. To this end, the carrier recently announced its intention to launch non-stop flights connecting Atlantaand Shanghai. The new service will be operational from July next year.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Delta currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Investors interested in the airline space may also consider United Continental Holdings, Inc. UAL and Ryanair Holdings plc RYAAY carrying the same rank as Delta. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The expected earnings per share growth rate (for the next three to five years) at United Continental is 6.14%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current year earnings has moved up 3.2% to $7.75 per share over the last 30 days at Ryanair.

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