Delta Air Lines says late Thanksgiving hurt November revenue, will boost December

ATLANTA – Delta Air Lines Inc. said a key measure of revenue would rise as much as 9 per cent this month, offsetting a November decline, as it benefits from strong Thanksgiving travel.

Delta said overall demand for Thanksgiving travel “was especially strong.” However, the late Thanksgiving means that passengers returning after the holiday weekend took their flights in December. The result was a 3 per cent decline in November passenger revenue compared to the same month last year, Delta said.

The combination of those passengers returning home in December, plus “solid bookings” for the remainder of the year, should boost December passenger revenue 7 per cent to 9 per cent, Delta said in reporting its monthly operating results on Tuesday.

November traffic fell 2.4 per cent, with a 4.8 per cent drop in domestic traffic offsetting a 1.7 per cent gain in international traffic.

November flying capacity rose 1.4 per cent, with a very small gain in domestic capacity and a 3.3 per cent increase in international flying capacity. Airlines can add capacity by using bigger planes, or by flying longer flights.

Because fewer people flew even as Delta added more flying capacity, its planes weren’t as full. Occupancy fell 3.1 percentage points to 79.4 per cent in November.