Delta Air Lines no longer expects to lose money in Q4

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FILE - A passenger wears a face mask as she waits in a socially-distance area for a Delta Airlines flight, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Delta Airlines is reversing course on its outlook for the fourth quarter, now saying that it anticipates a profit instead of a loss. The company said Thursday, Dec. 16, that it now foresees an adjusted profit of approximately $200 million for the period. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Delta Air Lines no longer expects to lose money in the fourth quarter with travel during the holiday season heating up.

The company said Thursday that it now foresees an adjusted profit of approximately $200 million in the final quarter of the year. In October Delta cautioned that it expected a “modest" loss in the fourth quarter due to rising fuel prices.

Shortly after the company issued that forecast, however, crude prices that had been soaring throughout the year began to ease. At the same time, demand for airline tickets is strengthening.

This month, the AAA forecast that more than 109 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday season between December 23 and January 2. Airlines, according to AAA, will see a 184% increase from last year.

Airlines are also wrestling with the same issues afflicting many of the country's employers. staff shortages and other hurdles that have emerged as the U.S. emerges from the worst of the pandemic. That can limit flights available and increase ticket prices.

Delta reported a $1.2 billion profit in its third quarter, helped by federal pandemic aid for the airline industry. The carrier lost money throughout 2020 during the pandemic and after a loss to start the year, it’s put up two profitable quarters and appears headed for another.

Shares of Delta Air Lines Inc., based in Atlanta, rose more than 2% before the market open and shares of other major carriers rose as well.

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