Delta shares fall sharply as higher costs overshadow strong travel demand

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Leslie Josephs | CNBC

Delta Air Lines reported third-quarter earnings beat Wall Street estimates on Thursday, after reporting strong demand from both leisure and corporate travelers.

Revenue rose 5% from a year ago to $12.56 billion, slightly below analysts’ forecasts. Net income rose more than 21% to $1.5 billion. Sales from its premium cabins, like first class, rose 9%.

Per-share earnings on an adjusted basis came in at $2.32, compared with analysts’ estimates of $2.26 a share.

Delta doesn’t fly the Boeing 737 Max, the troubled plane that has been grounded since March after the second of two fatal crashes. Competitors like American and Southwest that have the 737 Max in their fleets canceled thousands of flights in the quarter without access to the planes. As a result Delta picked up additional market share, which it expects to hold onto, Bastian said.

“Clearly, not having the Max helped us,” CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC in an interview, adding: “I don’t think it was the main driver” of the results.

Delta expects per-share earnings of between $1.20 and $1.50 in the fourth quarter.

Shares were down about 1.5% in premarket trading.

The airline’s executives will hold a call to discuss the results at 10 a.m. ET.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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