Virgin Atlantic partner Delta Air Lines saw quarterly profits soar by 31% to $1.37 billion.
The figure for the three months to September came as passenger numbers rose by 2% and the amount they paid increased by 5%.
Passenger revenue was up by 6.7% or $567 million year on year.
Delta, which bought Northwest in 2008 and emerged from bankruptcy protection six years ago, is benefiting as its biggest rivals struggle with merger problems. United Airlines is still working through its 2010 merger with Continental, and American and US Airways need to overcome a federal antitrust lawsuit if they want to go forward with their own collaboration.
President Ed Bastian said the airline is benefiting from a combination of rising business travel and some travellers shifting to Delta and away from other airlines. Delta is taking a “considerable amount” of business from other airlines, he said.
“The momentum we have built by running an outstanding operation and investing in our product and people enabled a 7% revenue growth, with particularly strong performance in Atlanta, New York and London,” said Bastian.
“The revenue environment appears solid through the end of the year, including strong holiday bookings, and we expect to continue to build on the revenue premium we deliver versus the industry.”
Delta has been expanding in New York at both JFK and LaGuardia. Revenue from New York will grow when Delta’s new joint venture with Virgin Atlantic begins on January 1, chief executive Richard Anderson said.
The Atlanta-based carrier saw passenger revenue gains in domestic services and flying to Europe. Revenue for flights across the Pacific fell 5%.
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