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Delta Airlines: weak Omicron not expected to greatly affect profits

As media outlets ramp up coverage of Omicron, Delta Airlines is responding with a yawn.

America’s largest airline reported on Thursday it expects to post an annual profit in 2022, as strong domestic holiday bookings helped power its fourth-quarter earnings despite the spread of the much weaker Omicron coronavirus variant. Currently, only one death has been reported worldwide from the Omicron. The variant, which is much more transmissible than other Covid variants, is also the weakest so far, with symptoms described as those of a mild cold.

Even so, Delta said Omicron had slowed international bookings as many countries overreacted with new travel restrictions.

“Omicron [is] not going to impact our holiday bookings,” the airline’s chief executive officer, Ed Bastian, said in an interview to CNBC, but added that it may have a very s mall impact in the first quarter.

International travel, typically more lucrative for airlines, is crucial for the sector as it seeks to return to profits and shake off pandemic-related losses. Transatlantic routes accounted for up to 17 percent of 2019 passenger revenues for the major U.S. carriers. Delta itself had reported a 450 percent spike in international bookings in November.

Shares of the Atlanta-based carrier rose 2.40 percent in the pre-market trading even as a weak Omicron spread, and the company said it expects to generate an adjusted pre-tax profit of $200 million in the December quarter.

–Wire services