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Fuel Costs Hurt Delta ResultsApril 26, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Delta Air Lines reported financial results for the March 2011 quarter, including a net loss of $318 million, which includes $2 million of special items. Driven by the $610 million impact of 30 percent higher fuel prices, Delta’s net loss was $128 million worse than the March 2010 quarter, excluding special items.
Delta said it generated $452 million in free cash flow for the quarter and its adjusted net debt at quarter end was $14.5 billion. Delta ended the quarter with $5.5 billion in unrestricted liquidity, which includes $1.6 billion in undrawn revolving credit lines.
”Fuel is the biggest challenge facing this industry and Delta is actively reducing capacity, implementing fare actions, hedging our fuel needs and attacking our cost structure in order to offset fuel’s impact on our earnings,” said Richard Anderson, Delta’s CEO.
During the March quarter, Delta detailed its plan to adjust its business in response to rising fuel prices. As part of that plan, the company actively implemented domestic fare increases and international fare surcharges as a means of passing through fuel costs to its customers.
Delta also reduced its capacity plans for the second half of 2011, which resulted in a four-point reduction in planned capacity. The company is targeting reductions in markets where revenue improvements have not kept pace with rising fuel costs. Delta now expects system capacity for the post-Labor Day period to be down approximately 3 percent compared to the prior year’s period.
Delta also announced the retirement of 130 of Delta’s least-efficient aircraft over the next 18 months, including the DC9-50 and Saab turbo-prop fleets and approximately 60 of its 50-seat regional jets. The airline also repositioned its fuel hedge portfolio in response to the dislocation in price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil (“WTI”) to jet fuel and changed the majority of Delta’s WTI positions to Brent crude oil or heating oil. Delta also plans to reduce planned capital expenditures by $300 million to $1.2 billion for 2011.