Delta Air Lines delivered sharply lower cargo revenue in the second quarter, reflecting the prolonged downturn in shipping demand that has engulfed all air logistics providers, even as overall revenue and profits soared to new highs.

Cargo sales tumbled 37% year over year to $172 million, the Atlanta-based carrier reported Thursday. Delta’s cargo results have gone steadily downhill from $272 million in the second quarter of 2022. Results worsened on a sequential basis from $209 million in the first quarter. Cargo revenue for the first half was down 32% to $381 million.

It is noteworthy that second-quarter cargo revenue at Delta was lower than in 2019 ($186 million), the baseline before the pandemic upset the global economy.

Delta’s record $1.05 billion in cargo revenue last year was made possible by a strong first half of the year. 

Delta (NYSE: DAL) is the first U.S. airline to report second-quarter earnings. United, American Airlines and other domestic and international carriers are expected to post similar downbeat results for cargo.

The air cargo sector declined 8% last year from the extraordinary high in 2021, which was driven by the need to overcome supply chain bottlenecks amid a shortage of aircraft capacity. Volumes each month this year were lower than a year ago, although the rate of decline has slowed considerably in recent weeks.

Unrelenting travel demand and lower fuel costs pushed Delta’s adjusted net income to an all-time high for any period of $1.72 billion, or $2.68 per share, exceeding analysts’ expectations. Operating revenue of $15.6 billion also set a record. The company raised its full-year guidance by $1 to $7 per share and said bookings are strong into September. 

Delta’s stock price was up a point in mid-day trading to $48.48 per share.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


Delta Air Lines’ cargo revenue retreats in soft freight market

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