Delta halves cash burn in the fourth quarter, narrows losses to cap worst year ever

delta halves cash burn in the fourth quarter narrows losses to cap worst year ever scaled

A Delta Air Lines plane lands at Los Angeles International Airport

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines said Thursday it halved its cash burn and narrowed its losses in the fourth quarter as the coronavirus pandemic drove the carrier to its worst year ever.

The Atlanta-based airline posted a net loss of nearly $12.39 billion in 2020 — a record, according to FactSet data.

Here’s how Delta performed in the quarter, compared with what Wall Street expected, based on average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

Adjusted earnings per share: a loss of $2.53 versus an expected loss of $2.50Total revenue: $3.97 billion versus expected $3.59 billion in revenue

Delta swung to a $755 million net loss in the fourth quarter compared with a $1.1 billion profit a year earlier. Total revenue fell 65% from $11.44 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019 to $3.97 billion. The company’s revenue got a $441 million boost from third-party refinery sales. On an adjusted basis, Delta had a per-share loss of $2.53, compared with analyst estimates for a loss of $2.50 a share.

The carrier’s cash burn averaged $12 million a day in the quarter ended Dec. 31, down by half from its average cash burn of $24 million a day in the third quarter. Delta has said it expects to get to cash flow positive by the spring.

Delta shares were up 1.5% in premarket trading after Delta reported its results.

The airline will face difficult months ahead but is eyeing a recovery in 2021 as Covid vaccines are administered around the country, CEO Ed Bastian said.

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