NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Delta Air Lines Inc. said Friday earnings for the latest quarter will be 55 to 65 cents a share, well below Wall Street forecasts of 81 cents a share, due to heavy flight cancellations.|
Delta said fourth-quarter operating revenue will be $65 million to $70 million lower than previously anticipated. The company cancelled about 7,500 flights in December.
Delta said its capacity fell 2.3 percent in December.
"The winter storms and holiday crowds, combined with reduced additional flying by some Delta pilots, have made this traditionally challenging period one of the most demanding in our history," Chairman and CEO Leo F. Mullin said.
The company also has reduced its domestic schedule by 2.7 percent in the first quarter of 2001 to "provide more reliable service," as it battles a continuing pilot shortage.
Most of the eliminated flights are between cities with frequent service and so called "red-eye," or overnight, flights from Las Vegas to the East Coast. Delta cut about 5 percent of its flights last month as the full effect of crew shortages became apparent.
The Atlanta-based airline, the third largest in the United States, has canceled thousands of flights since November as it struggles with pilot unavailability. Some pilots have refused to fly overtime to express their displeasure with the company's contract offer.
Delta (DAL: Research, Estimates) shares fell $1.25 to $51.25 in early trading Friday.