Delta Air Lines reported a major leap in its quarterly profits for the three months ending December to $379m.

This represented a $221m year on year improvement,  the US airline said.

The Atlanta-based carrier said its annual net income for 2011 was $1.2bn despite a $3bn rise in fuel prices.

During Q4, Delta said its operating revenue increased by $610m, an 8% rise on the same quarter in 2010.

Passenger revenue also increased by 8% ($555m) compared with the same 2010 period.

The airline said that load factors during the quarter were up to 81.7% although traffic was down 3% on a 3.5% fall in capacity.

The carrier enjoyed a rise in passenger revenue in all four of its main operating regions, domestic (up 13.2%), Atlantic (10.8%), Pacific (13.7%) and Latin America (5.9%).

Richard Anderson, Delta’s ceo, said:  “Delta people pulled together in 2011 to produce a solid profit, strong cash generation, and the best operational performance in the industry for our customers.

“Looking forward to 2012, we will continue our commitment to sustained profitability and superior returns by growing and diversifying our revenues, while taking a disciplined approach to capacity, costs and capital spending.”

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