Staggering fuel prices overwhelmed a 12% sales increase and pushed Delta Air Lines to a $274-million loss in the first quarter, which ballooned to $6.39 billion on a $6.1-billion non-cash charge reflecting a decline in its market value. Excluding special items—including the bankruptcy-related charge—the airline lost 69 cents a share; analysts had expected 49 cents a share, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The loss, driven by a 50% increase in the cost of fuel, doubles last year’s first-quarter loss of $130 million, when Delta was under Chapter 11 protection. Delta’s shares have fallen 69% in the past year. The proposed Delta-Northwest merger, which would result in the world's largest passenger carrier, is expected to help the airlines cope better with soaring fuel prices.