Delta Air Lines has forecast continuing growth in the quarter to March after reporting record revenue for 2023.
The US carrier saw operating revenue rise by 20% last year to $54.7 billion.
Pre-tax profits for the year almost doubled to $5.6 billion, triggering $1.4 billion in profit sharing payments to staff in February.
International passenger revenue was 25% higher in the three months to December against the same quarter in 2022 with double-digit revenue and capacity growth in the transatlantic, Pacific and Latin America sectors.
Transatlantic performance led with passenger unit revenues up 9% year-on-year.
Full year results generated record margins across all three international regions, the airline said.
Delta president Glen Hauenstein said: “With strong demand for international travel and a positive inflection in the domestic environment, we expect March quarter adjusted revenue to be 3% to 6% higher than the prior year.”
The forecast came as the airline reached an agreement with Airbus to purchase 20 A350-1000s, with options for 20 additional widebody aircraft.
Deliveries of the long-haul aircraft are due to start in 2026.
Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said: “The A350-1000 will be the largest, most capable aircraft in Delta’s fleet and is an important step forward for our international expansion.
“The aircraft complements our fleet and offers an elevated customer experience, with more premium seats and best-in-class amenities, as well as expanded cargo capabilities.”
Reflecting on the past year, he said: “2023 was a great year for Delta with industry-leading operational and financial performance.
“Our people and their commitment to deliver unmatched service excellence for our customers is at the foundation of Delta’s success.
“We are thrilled to recognise their outstanding work with $1.4 billion in profit sharing payments next month.
“In 2024, demand for air travel remains strong and our customer base is in a healthy financial position with travel a top priority.”
Meanwhile, Airbus reported that it delivered 735 commercial aircraft in 2023, an 11% increase on 2022.
New chief executive for commercial aircraft Christian Scherer said:“We originally anticipated aviation to recover sometime in the 2023-2025 timeframe, but what we saw in 2023 was, alongside the single-aisle market, widebody return much sooner than expected, and with vigour.”