10-K 1 dal1231201410k.htm 10-K DAL 12.31.2014 10K


 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
þ
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014
Or
o
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission File Number 001-5424
DELTA AIR LINES, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware
58-0218548
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
 
 
Post Office Box 20706
 
Atlanta, Georgia
30320-6001
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Zip Code)
 
 
Registrant's telephone number, including area code: (404) 715-2600
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.0001 per share
 
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes þ No o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes o No þ
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes þ No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes þ No o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. þ
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer 
þ
Accelerated filer 
o
Non-accelerated filer
o
Smaller reporting company
o
 
 
 
 
(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
 
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes o No þ
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2014 was approximately $32.6 billion.
On January 31, 2015, there were outstanding 824,271,663 shares of the registrant's common stock.
This document is also available on our website at http://www.delta.com/about_delta/investor_relations.
Documents Incorporated By Reference
Part III of this Form 10-K incorporates by reference certain information from the registrant's definitive Proxy Statement for its Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
 




Table of Contents
 
Page
 
 
PART I
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
PART II
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Financial Highlights - 2014 Compared to 2013
Results of Operations - 2014 Compared to 2013
Results of Operations - 2013 Compared to 2012
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 









Unless otherwise indicated, the terms “Delta,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Delta Air Lines, Inc. and its subsidiaries.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Statements in this Form 10-K (or otherwise made by us or on our behalf) that are not historical facts, including statements about our estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections or strategies for the future, may be “forward-looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from historical experience or our present expectations. Known material risk factors applicable to Delta are described in “Risk Factors Relating to Delta” and “Risk Factors Relating to the Airline Industry” in “Item 1A. Risk Factors” of this Form 10-K, other than risks that could apply to any issuer or offering. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made, and we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date of this report.

1



Part I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

General

We provide scheduled air transportation for passengers and cargo throughout the United States and around the world. Our global route network gives us a presence in every major domestic and international market. Our route network is centered around a system of hub and international gateway airports that we operate in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-LaGuardia, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Tokyo-Narita. Each of these operations includes flights that gather and distribute traffic from markets in the geographic region surrounding the hub or gateway to domestic and international cities and to other hubs or gateways. Our network is supported by a fleet of aircraft that is varied in size and capabilities, giving us flexibility to adjust aircraft to the network.

Other key characteristics of our route network include:

our international joint ventures, particularly our transatlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia and our transatlantic joint venture with Virgin Atlantic;

our alliances with other foreign airlines, including Aeroméxico and GOL and our membership in SkyTeam, a global airline alliance; and

agreements with multiple domestic regional carriers, which operate as Delta Connection®.

We are incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware. Our principal executive offices are located at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. Our telephone number is (404) 715-2600 and our Internet address is www.delta.com. Information contained on our website is not part of, and is not incorporated by reference in, this Form 10-K.

International Alliances

Our international alliance relationships with foreign carriers are an important part of our business as they improve our access to international markets and enable us to market expanded and globally integrated air transportation services. In general, these arrangements include reciprocal codesharing and frequent flyer program participation and airport lounge access arrangements, and with some carriers may also include joint sales and marketing coordination, co-location of airport facilities and other commercial cooperation arrangements. These alliances also may present opportunities in other areas, such as airport ground handling arrangements, aircraft maintenance insourcing and joint procurement.

Joint Venture Agreements. We currently operate three joint ventures with foreign carriers. These arrangements, for which we have received antitrust immunity from the U.S. Department of Transportation ("DOT"), provide for joint commercial cooperation with our partners within the geographic scope of those arrangements, including the sharing of revenues and/or profits and losses generated by the parties on the joint venture routes, as well as joint marketing and sales, coordinated pricing and revenue management, network planning and scheduling and other coordinated activities with respect to the parties' operations on joint venture routes. The three joint ventures are:

A transatlantic joint venture with Air France and KLM, both of which are subsidiaries of the same holding company, and Alitalia, which generally covers routes between North America and Europe.

A transatlantic joint venture with Virgin Atlantic Airways with respect to operations on non-stop routes between the United Kingdom and North America. In addition to the joint venture, we own a non-controlling 49% equity stake in Virgin Atlantic Limited, the parent company of Virgin Atlantic Airways.

A transpacific joint venture with Virgin Australia Airlines and its affiliated carriers with respect to operations on transpacific routes between North America and Australia/New Zealand.


2



Enhanced Commercial Agreements with Latin American Carriers. We have separate strategic equity investments in Grupo Aeroméxico, S.A.B. de C.V., the parent company of Aeroméxico, and in GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, S.A, the parent company of VRG Linhas Aéreas (operating as GOL), and an exclusive commercial relationship with each air carrier. We invested in Aeroméxico and GOL because they operate in Latin America's two largest markets, Mexico and Brazil, respectively. The agreements provide for expansion of reciprocal codesharing and frequent flyer program participation, airport lounge access arrangements, improved passenger connections and joint sales cooperation. In addition to our commercial cooperation arrangements for passenger service with Aeroméxico, we and Aeroméxico have established a joint venture relating to an airframe maintenance, repair and overhaul operation located in Queretaro, Mexico.

SkyTeam. In addition to our marketing alliance agreements with individual foreign airlines, we are a member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance. The other members of SkyTeam are Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeroméxico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, CSA Czech Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Tarom, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Airlines. Through alliance arrangements with other SkyTeam carriers, Delta is able to link its network with the route networks of the other member airlines, providing opportunities for increased connecting traffic while offering enhanced customer service through reciprocal codesharing and frequent flyer arrangements, airport lounge access programs and coordinated cargo operations.

Domestic Alliances

We have reciprocal codesharing and frequent flyer program participation and airport lounge access arrangements with both Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.

Regional Carriers

We have air service agreements with domestic regional air carriers that feed traffic to our route system by serving passengers primarily in small and medium-sized cities. These arrangements enable us to better match capacity with demand in these markets. Approximately 18% of our passenger revenue in 2014 was related to flying by these regional air carriers.

Through our regional carrier program, Delta Connection, we have contractual arrangements with regional carriers to operate aircraft using our “DL” designator code. We have contractual arrangements with:

ExpressJet Airlines, Inc. and SkyWest Airlines, Inc., both subsidiaries of SkyWest, Inc.;
Shuttle America Corporation, a subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings, Inc.;
Compass Airlines, Inc. (“Compass”) and GoJet Airlines, LLC, both subsidiaries of Trans States Holdings, Inc. (“Trans States”); and
Endeavor Air, Inc., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ours.

Our contractual agreements with regional carriers primarily are capacity purchase arrangements, under which we control the scheduling, pricing, reservations, ticketing and seat inventories for the regional carriers' flights operating under our “DL” designator code. We are entitled to all ticket, cargo, mail, in-flight and ancillary revenues associated with these flights. We pay those airlines an amount, as defined in the applicable agreement, which is based on a determination of their cost of operating those flights and other factors intended to approximate market rates for those services. These capacity purchase agreements are long-term agreements, usually with initial terms of at least 10 years, which grant us the option to extend the initial term. Certain of these agreements provide us the right to terminate the entire agreement, or in some cases remove some of the aircraft from the scope of the agreement, for convenience at certain future dates.

SkyWest Airlines operates some flights for us under a revenue proration agreement. This proration agreement establishes a fixed dollar or percentage division of revenues for tickets sold to passengers traveling on connecting flight itineraries.


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Fuel

Our results of operations are significantly impacted by changes in the price and availability of aircraft fuel. The following table shows our aircraft fuel consumption and costs.
Year
Gallons Consumed(1) (Millions)
Cost(1)(2) (Millions)
Average Price Per Gallon(1)(2)
Percentage of Total Operating Expense(1)(2)
2014
3,893

$
13,512

$
3.47

35
%
2013
3,828

$
11,464

$
3.00

33
%
2012
3,769

$
12,251

$
3.25

36
%

(1) 
Includes the fuel consumption costs of our regional carriers operating under capacity purchase agreements.
(2) 
Includes fuel hedge (losses) gains under our fuel hedging program of $(2.0) billion, $493 million and $(66) million for 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively.

General

While jet fuel prices fell during the latter part of 2014, fuel expense remains our single largest expense. We have historically purchased most of our aircraft fuel under contracts that establish the price based on various market indices and therefore do not provide material protection against price increases or assure the availability of our fuel supplies. We also purchase aircraft fuel on the spot market, from off-shore sources and under contracts that permit the refiners to set the price.

Monroe Energy

Global jet fuel demand continues to increase. While the advent of domestic shale oil production in the U.S. has reduced the threat of U.S. refinery closures beyond those that have already closed, further capacity reduction is expected in Europe, thus impacting supply in the Atlantic Basin and ultimately increasing refinery margins in the U.S. Our wholly-owned subsidiaries, Monroe Energy, LLC and MIPC, LLC (collectively, “Monroe”), are distinct from us, operating under their own management teams and with their own boards of managers. They operate the Trainer refinery and related assets located near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of our strategy to mitigate the increasing cost of the refining margin reflected in the price of jet fuel. The facilities include pipelines and terminal assets that allow the refinery to supply jet fuel to our airline operations throughout the Northeastern U.S., including our New York hubs at LaGuardia and JFK.

Refinery Operations. The facility is capable of refining 185,000 barrels of crude oil per day. In addition to jet fuel, the refinery's production consists of gasoline, diesel and other refined products (“non-jet fuel products”). Monroe sources domestic and foreign crude oil supply from a variety of providers.

Strategic Agreements. Under multi-year agreements, Monroe exchanges the non-jet fuel products the refinery produces with third parties for jet fuel consumed in our airline operations. Substantially all of the refinery's expected production of non-jet fuel products is included in these agreements.

Segments. Because the products and services of Monroe's refinery operations are discrete from our airline services, segment results are prepared for our airline segment and our refinery segment. Financial information on our segment reporting can be found in Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Fuel Hedging Program

We actively manage our fuel price risk through a hedging program intended to reduce the financial impact from changes in the price of jet fuel. We utilize different contract and commodity types in this program and frequently test their economic effectiveness against our financial targets. We rebalance the hedge portfolio from time to time according to market conditions, which may result in locking in gains or losses on hedge contracts prior to their settlement dates.


4



Fuel Supply Availability

We are currently able to obtain adequate supplies of aircraft fuel, including fuel produced by Monroe or procured through the exchange of non-jet fuel products the refinery produces, and crude oil for Monroe's operations. However, it is impossible to predict the future availability or price of aircraft fuel and crude oil. Weather-related events, natural disasters, political disruptions or wars involving oil-producing countries, changes in government policy concerning aircraft fuel production, transportation or marketing, changes in refining capacity, environmental concerns and other unpredictable events may result in future fuel supply shortages and fuel price increases.

Frequent Flyer Program

Our SkyMiles® frequent flyer program ("SkyMiles program") is designed to retain and increase traveler loyalty by offering incentives to customers to increase travel on Delta. The SkyMiles program allows program members to earn mileage credit for travel awards by flying on Delta, its regional carriers and other participating airlines. Mileage credit may also be earned by using certain services offered by program participants, such as credit card companies, hotels and car rental agencies. In addition, individuals and companies may purchase mileage credits. Miles do not expire, but are subject to the program rules. We reserve the right to terminate the program with six months advance notice, and to change the program's terms and conditions at any time without notice.

SkyMiles program mileage credits can be redeemed for air travel on Delta and participating airlines, for membership in our Delta Sky Clubs® and for other program participant awards. Mileage credits are subject to certain transfer restrictions and travel awards are subject to capacity-controlled seating. In 2014, program members redeemed more than 296 billion miles in the SkyMiles program for 12.5 million award redemptions. During this period, 7.4% of revenue miles flown on Delta were from award travel.

Other Businesses

Cargo

Through our global network, our cargo operations are able to connect all of the world's major freight gateways. We generate cargo revenues in domestic and international markets through the use of cargo space on regularly scheduled passenger aircraft. We are a member of SkyTeam Cargo, a global airline cargo alliance, whose other members are Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeroméxico Cargo, Air France-KLM Cargo, Alitalia Cargo, China Airlines Cargo, China Cargo Airlines, China Southern Cargo, Czech Airlines Cargo and Korean Air Cargo. SkyTeam Cargo offers a global network spanning six continents.

Delta TechOps, Delta Global Services, MLT Vacations and Delta Private Jets

We have several other businesses arising from our airline operations, including aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (“MRO”), staffing services for third parties, vacation wholesale operations and our private jet operations. In 2014, the total revenue from these businesses was approximately $850 million.

In addition to providing maintenance and engineering support for our fleet of over 900 aircraft, our MRO operation, known as Delta TechOps, serves aviation and airline customers from around the world.
    
Our staffing services business, Delta Global Services, provides staffing services, professional security, training services and aviation solutions.

Our vacation wholesale business, MLT Vacations, provides vacation packages to third-party consumers.

Our private jet operations, Delta Private Jets, provides aircraft charters, aircraft management and programs allowing members to purchase flight time by the hour.

Distribution and Expanded Product Offerings

Our tickets are sold through various distribution channels including delta.com and mobile, telephone reservations and traditional "brick and mortar" and online travel agencies. An increasing number of our tickets are sold through Delta digital channels, which reduces our distribution costs and gives us improved and direct, personalized interaction with our customers.


5



We are transforming distribution to a merchandised approach by introducing well-defined and differentiated products available to our customers. We will offer five products, which include premium amenities and services in Delta OneTM, First Class and Delta Comfort+TM (formerly Economy ComfortTM) while Main Cabin and Basic Economy options allow customers to match the level of service with their preferences. We expect that these merchandising initiatives, implemented primarily through Delta’s digital channels, will allow customers to better understand our product offerings, make it easier to buy the products they desire and increase customer satisfaction.

Competition

The airline industry is highly competitive, marked by significant competition with respect to routes, fares, schedules (both timing and frequency), services, products, customer service and frequent flyer programs. The industry is going through a period of transformation through consolidation, both domestically and internationally, and changes in international alliances. Consolidation in the airline industry, the rise of well-funded government sponsored international carriers, changes in international alliances and the creation of immunized joint ventures have altered and will continue to alter the competitive landscape in the industry, resulting in the formation of airlines and alliances with increased financial resources, more extensive global networks and competitive cost structures.

Domestic

Our domestic operations are subject to competition from traditional network carriers, including American Airlines and United Airlines, national point-to-point carriers, including Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines, and discount carriers, some of which may have lower costs than we do and provide service at low fares to destinations served by us. Point-to-point, discount and ultra low-cost carriers, including Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air, place significant competitive pressure on network carriers in the domestic market. In particular, we face significant competition at our domestic hub and gateway airports either directly at those airports or at the hubs of other airlines that are located in close proximity to our hubs and gateways. We also face competition in smaller to medium-sized markets from regional jet operations of other carriers.

International

Our international operations are subject to competition from both foreign and domestic carriers. Competition is increasing from well-funded carriers in the Gulf region, including Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. These carriers have large numbers of international widebody aircraft on order and are increasing service to the U.S. from their hubs in the Middle East. Several of these carriers, along with carriers from China, India and Latin America, are government supported or funded, which has allowed them to grow quickly, reinvest in their product and expand their global presence at the expense of U.S. airlines.

Through alliance and other marketing and codesharing agreements with foreign carriers, U.S. carriers have increased their ability to sell international transportation, such as services to and beyond traditional European and Asian gateway cities. Similarly, foreign carriers have obtained increased access to interior U.S. passenger traffic beyond traditional U.S. gateway cities through these relationships. In particular, alliances formed by domestic and foreign carriers, including SkyTeam, the Star Alliance (among United Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, Air Canada and others) and the oneworld alliance (among American Airlines, British Airways, Qantas and others) have altered competition in international markets.

In addition, several joint ventures among U.S. and foreign carriers, including our transatlantic and transpacific joint ventures, have received grants of antitrust immunity allowing the participating carriers to coordinate schedules, pricing, sales and inventory. Other joint ventures that have received antitrust immunity include a transatlantic alliance among United Airlines, Air Canada and Lufthansa German Airlines, a transpacific joint venture between United Airlines and All Nippon Airways, a transatlantic joint venture among American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia and a transpacific joint venture between American Airlines and Japan Air Lines.


6



Regulatory Matters

The DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration (the “FAA”) exercise regulatory authority over air transportation in the U.S. The DOT has authority to issue certificates of public convenience and necessity required for airlines to provide domestic air transportation. An air carrier that the DOT finds fit to operate is given authority to operate domestic and international air transportation (including the carriage of passengers and cargo). Except for constraints imposed by regulations regarding “Essential Air Services,” which are applicable to certain small communities, airlines may terminate service to a city without restriction.

The DOT has jurisdiction over certain economic and consumer protection matters, such as unfair or deceptive practices and methods of competition, advertising, denied boarding compensation, baggage liability and disabled passenger transportation. The DOT also has authority to review certain joint venture agreements between major carriers and engages in regulation of economic matters such as slot transactions. The FAA has primary responsibility for matters relating to the safety of air carrier flight operations, including airline operating certificates, control of navigable air space, flight personnel, aircraft certification and maintenance and other matters affecting air safety.

Authority to operate international routes and international codesharing arrangements is regulated by the DOT and by the governments of the foreign countries involved. International certificate authorities are also subject to the approval of the U.S. President for conformance with national defense and foreign policy objectives.

The Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, each a division of the Department of Homeland Security, are responsible for certain civil aviation security matters, including passenger and baggage screening at U.S. airports and international passenger prescreening prior to entry into or departure from the U.S.

Airlines are also subject to various other federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice has jurisdiction over airline competition matters. The U.S. Postal Service has authority over certain aspects of the transportation of mail. Labor relations in the airline industry, as discussed below, are generally governed by the Railway Labor Act. Environmental matters are regulated by various federal, state, local and foreign governmental entities. Privacy of passenger and employee data is regulated by domestic and foreign laws and regulations.

Fares and Rates

Airlines set ticket prices in all domestic and most international city pairs with minimal governmental regulation, and the industry is characterized by significant price competition. Certain international fares and rates are subject to the jurisdiction of the DOT and the governments of the foreign countries involved. Many of our tickets are sold by travel agents, and fares are subject to commissions, overrides and discounts paid to travel agents, brokers and wholesalers.

Route Authority

Our flight operations are authorized by certificates of public convenience and necessity and also by exemptions and limited-entry frequency awards issued by the DOT. The requisite approvals of other governments for international operations are controlled by bilateral agreements (and a multilateral agreement in the case of the U.S. and the European Union) with, or permits or approvals issued by, foreign countries. Because international air transportation is governed by bilateral or other agreements between the U.S. and the foreign country or countries involved, changes in U.S. or foreign government aviation policies could result in the alteration or termination of such agreements, diminish the value of our international route authorities or otherwise affect our international operations. Bilateral agreements between the U.S. and various foreign countries served by us are subject to renegotiation from time to time. The U.S. government has negotiated “open skies” agreements with many countries, which allow unrestricted access between the U.S. and the foreign markets. These agreements include separate agreements with the European Union and Japan.

Certain of our international route authorities are subject to periodic renewal requirements. We request extension of these authorities when and as appropriate. While the DOT usually renews temporary authorities on routes where the authorized carrier is providing a reasonable level of service, there is no assurance this practice will continue in general or with respect to a specific renewal. Dormant route authorities may not be renewed in some cases, especially where another U.S. carrier indicates a willingness to provide service.


7



Airport Access

Operations at four major domestic airports and certain foreign airports served by us are regulated by governmental entities through allocations of “slots” or similar regulatory mechanisms which limit the rights of carriers to conduct operations at those airports. Each slot represents the authorization to land at or take off from the particular airport during a specified time period.

In the U.S., the FAA currently regulates the allocation of slots, slot exemptions, operating authorizations, or similar capacity allocation mechanisms at Reagan National in Washington, D.C. and LaGuardia, JFK and Newark in the New York City area. Our operations at these airports generally require the allocation of slots or analogous regulatory authorizations. Similarly, our operations at Tokyo's Narita and Haneda airports, London's Heathrow airport and other international airports are regulated by local slot coordinators pursuant to the International Air Transport Association's Worldwide Scheduling Guidelines and applicable local law. We currently have sufficient slots or analogous authorizations to operate our existing flights, and we have generally been able to obtain the rights to expand our operations and to change our schedules. There is no assurance, however, that we will be able to do so in the future because, among other reasons, such allocations are subject to changes in governmental policies.

Environmental Matters

Emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) is authorized to regulate aircraft emissions and has historically implemented emissions control standards adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (“ICAO”). Our aircraft comply with existing EPA standards as applicable by engine design date. The ICAO has adopted two additional aircraft engine emissions standards, the first of which is applicable to engines certified after December 31, 2007, and the second of which is applicable to engines certified after December 31, 2013. In June 2012, the EPA published a final rulemaking for new emission standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx), adopting ICAO's additional standards. Included in the rule are two new tiers of more stringent emission standards for NOx. These standards, referred to as the Tier 6 standards, become effective for newly-manufactured aircraft engines beginning in 2013.

Concern about aviation environmental issues, including climate change and greenhouse gases, has led to taxes on our operations in the United Kingdom and in Germany, both of which have levied taxes directly on our customers. We may face additional regulation of aircraft emissions in the U.S. and abroad and become subject to further taxes, charges or additional requirements to obtain permits or purchase allowances or emission credits for greenhouse gas emissions in various jurisdictions. This could result in taxation or permitting requirements from multiple jurisdictions for the same operations. Ongoing bilateral discussions between the U.S. and other nations may lead to international treaties or other actions focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. In addition, at the 38th ICAO Assembly that concluded October 4, 2013 in Montreal, the Assembly adopted a climate change resolution committing ICAO to develop a global market-based measure to be finalized at the 2016 ICAO Assembly which would enable the airline industry to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020.

The European Union has required its member states to implement regulations including aviation in its Emissions Trading Scheme (“ETS”). Under these regulations, any airline with flights originating or landing in the European Union is subject to the ETS and, beginning in 2012, was required to purchase emissions allowances if the airline exceeds the number of free allowances allocated to it under the ETS. The ETS has been amended to apply only to flights within the European Economic Area (“EEA”) from 2013 through 2016. As a result, we operate a limited number of flights that will be subject to the ETS through 2016. After 2016, the ETS would apply to all flights originating or landing in the European Union.
 
Cap and trade restrictions have also been proposed in the U.S. In addition, other legislative or regulatory action, including by the EPA, to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is possible. In particular, the EPA has found that greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare, which could result in regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. In the event that legislation or regulation is enacted in the U.S. or in the event similar legislation or regulation is enacted in jurisdictions other than the European Union where we operate or where we may operate in the future, it could result in significant costs for us and the airline industry. In addition to direct costs, such regulation may have a greater effect on the airline industry through increases in fuel costs that could result from fuel suppliers passing on increased costs that they incur under such a system. We are monitoring and evaluating the potential impact of such legislative and regulatory developments.


8



We seek to minimize the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from our operations through reductions in our fuel consumption and other efforts and have realized reductions in our greenhouse gas emission levels since 2005. We have reduced the fuel needs of our aircraft fleet through the retirement of older, less fuel efficient aircraft and replacement with newer, more fuel efficient aircraft. In addition, we have implemented fuel saving procedures in our flight and ground support operations that further reduce carbon emissions. We are also supporting efforts to develop alternative fuels and efforts to modernize the air traffic control system in the U.S., as part of our efforts to reduce our emissions and minimize our impact on the environment.

Noise. The Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 recognizes the rights of operators of airports with noise problems to implement local noise abatement programs so long as such programs do not interfere unreasonably with interstate or foreign commerce or the national air transportation system. This statute generally provides that local noise restrictions on Stage 3 aircraft first effective after October 1, 1990, require FAA approval. While we have had sufficient scheduling flexibility to accommodate local noise restrictions in the past, our operations could be adversely impacted if locally-imposed regulations become more restrictive or widespread. In addition, foreign governments may allow airports to enact similar restrictions, which could adversely impact our international operations or require significant expenditure in order for our aircraft to comply with the restrictions.

Refinery Matters. Monroe's operation of the Trainer refinery is subject to numerous environmental laws and extensive regulations, including those relating to the discharge of materials into the environment, waste management, pollution prevention measures and greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the EPA has adopted Renewable Fuel Standards (“RFS”) that mandate the blending of renewable fuels into gasoline and on-road diesel (“Transportation Fuels”). Renewable Identification Numbers (“RINs”) are assigned to renewable fuels produced or imported into the U.S. that are blended into Transportation Fuels to demonstrate compliance with this obligation. A refinery may meet its obligation under RFS by blending the necessary volumes of renewable fuels with Transportation Fuels or by purchasing RINs in the open market or through a combination of blending and purchasing RINs. Because the refinery operated by Monroe does not blend renewable fuels, it must purchase its entire RINs requirement in the secondary market or obtain a waiver from the EPA.

Other Environmental Matters. We had been identified by the EPA as a potentially responsible party (“PRP”) with respect to certain Superfund Sites, and entered into consent decrees or settlements regarding some of these sites. Our alleged disposal volume at each of these sites was small or was considered de minimis when compared to the total contributions of all PRPs at each site.

We are aware of soil and/or ground water contamination present on our current or former leaseholds at several domestic airports. To address this contamination, we have a program in place to investigate and, if appropriate, remediate these sites. Although the ultimate outcome of these matters cannot be predicted with certainty, we believe that the resolution of these matters will not have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial statements.

We are also subject to various other federal, state and local laws governing environmental matters, including the management and disposal of chemicals, waste and hazardous materials, protection of surface and subsurface waters and regulation of air emissions and aircraft drinking water.

Civil Reserve Air Fleet Program

We participate in the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program (the “CRAF Program”), which permits the U.S. military to use the aircraft and crew resources of participating U.S. airlines during airlift emergencies, national emergencies or times of war. We have agreed to make available under the CRAF Program a portion of our international aircraft during the contract period ending September 30, 2015. The CRAF Program has only been activated twice since it was created in 1951.

9



Employee Matters

Railway Labor Act

Our relations with labor unions representing our airline employees in the U.S. are governed by the Railway Labor Act. Under the Railway Labor Act, a labor union seeking to represent an unrepresented craft or class of employees is required to file with the National Mediation Board (the “NMB”) an application alleging a representation dispute, along with authorization cards signed by at least 50% of the employees in that craft or class. The NMB then investigates the dispute and, if it finds the labor union has obtained a sufficient number of authorization cards, conducts an election to determine whether to certify the labor union as the collective bargaining representative of that craft or class. A labor union will be certified as the representative of the employees in a craft or class if more than 50% of votes cast are for that union. A certified labor union would commence negotiations toward a collective bargaining agreement with the employer.

Under the Railway Labor Act, a collective bargaining agreement between an airline and a labor union does not expire, but instead becomes amendable as of a stated date. Either party may request that the NMB appoint a federal mediator to participate in the negotiations for a new or amended agreement. If no agreement is reached in mediation, the NMB may determine, at any time, that an impasse exists and offer binding arbitration. If either party rejects binding arbitration, a 30-day “cooling off” period begins. At the end of this 30-day period, the parties may engage in “self help,” unless the U.S. President appoints a Presidential Emergency Board (“PEB”) to investigate and report on the dispute. The appointment of a PEB maintains the “status quo” for an additional 60 days. If the parties do not reach agreement during this period, the parties may then engage in self help. Self help includes, among other things, a strike by the union or the imposition of proposed changes to the collective bargaining agreement by the airline. Congress and the President have the authority to prevent self help by enacting legislation that, among other things, imposes a settlement on the parties.

Collective Bargaining

As of December 31, 2014, we had approximately 80,000 full-time equivalent employees, approximately 18% of whom were represented by unions. The following table shows our domestic airline employee groups that are represented by unions.
Employee Group
Approximate Number of Active Employees Represented
 
Union
Date on which Collective Bargaining Agreement Becomes Amendable
Delta Pilots
11,530
 
ALPA
December 31, 2015
Delta Flight Superintendents (Dispatchers)
380
 
PAFCA
March 31, 2018
Endeavor Air Pilots
1,300
 
ALPA
January 1, 2020
Endeavor Air Flight Attendants
1,000
 
AFA
December 31, 2018
Endeavor Air Dispatchers
60
 
DISTWU
December 31, 2018

In addition, 210 refinery employees of Monroe are represented by the United Steel Workers under an agreement that expires on February 28, 2015. This agreement is governed by the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), which generally allows either party to engage in self help upon the expiration of the agreement. Formal negotiations toward a new or amended agreement have commenced.

Labor unions periodically engage in organizing efforts to represent various groups of our employees, including at our operating subsidiaries, that are not represented for collective bargaining purposes.


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Executive Officers of the Registrant

Richard H. Anderson, Age 59: Chief Executive Officer of Delta since September 1, 2007; Executive Vice President of UnitedHealth Group and President of its Commercial Services Group (December 2006 - August 2007); Executive Vice President of UnitedHealth Group (November 2004 - December 2006); Chief Executive Officer of Northwest Airlines Corporation (“Northwest”) (2001 - November 2004).

Edward H. Bastian, Age 57: President of Delta since September 1, 2007; President of Delta and Chief Executive Officer Northwest Airlines, Inc. (October 2008 - December 2009); President and Chief Financial Officer of Delta (September 2007 -October 2008); Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Delta (July 2005 - September 2007); Chief Financial Officer, Acuity Brands (June 2005 - July 2005); Senior Vice President-Finance and Controller of Delta (2000 - April 2005); Vice President and Controller of Delta (1998 - 2000).

Glen W. Hauenstein, Age 54: Executive Vice President - Chief Revenue Officer of Delta since August 2013; Executive Vice President-Network Planning and Revenue Management of Delta (April 2006 - July 2013); Executive Vice President and Chief of Network and Revenue Management of Delta (August 2005 - April 2006); Vice General Director-Chief Commercial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Alitalia (2003 - 2005); Senior Vice President-Network of Continental Airlines (2003); Senior Vice President-Scheduling of Continental Airlines (2001 - 2003); Vice President Scheduling of Continental Airlines (1998 - 2001).

Richard B. Hirst, Age 70: Executive Vice President - Chief Legal Officer of Delta since April 2013; Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Delta (October 2008 - April 2013); Senior Vice President-Corporate Affairs and General Counsel of Northwest (March 2008 - October 2008); Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of KB Home (March 2004 -November 2006); Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Burger King Corporation (March 2001 - June 2003); General Counsel of the Minnesota Twins (1999 - 2000); Senior Vice President-Corporate Affairs of Northwest (1994 - 1999); Senior Vice President-General Counsel of Northwest (1990 - 1994); Vice President-General Counsel and Secretary of Continental Airlines (1986 - 1990).

Paul A. Jacobson, Age 43. Executive Vice President - Chief Financial Officer of Delta since August 2013; Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Delta (March 2012 - July 2013); Senior Vice President and Treasurer for Delta (December 2007 - March 2012); Vice President and Treasurer (August 2005 - December 2007).

Joanne D. Smith, Age 56. Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Delta since October 2014; Senior Vice President - In-Flight Service of Delta (March 2007 - September 2014); Vice President - Marketing of Delta (November 2005 - February 2007); President of Song (January 2005 - October 2005); Vice President - Marketing and Customer Service of Song (November 2002 - December 2004).

W. Gil West, Age 54. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Delta since March 2014; Senior Vice President - Airport Customer Service and Technical Operations of Delta (February 2012 - February 2014); Senior Vice President - Airport Customer Service of Delta (March 2008 - January 2012); President and Chief Executive Officer of Laidlaw Transit Services (2006 - 2007).


Additional Information

We make available free of charge on our website our Annual Report on Form 10-K, our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after these reports are filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Information on our website is not incorporated into this Form 10-K or our other securities filings and is not a part of those filings.


11



ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

Risk Factors Relating to Delta
Our business and results of operations are dependent on the price of aircraft fuel. High fuel costs or cost increases, including in the cost of crude oil, could have a material adverse effect on our operating results.
Our operating results are significantly impacted by changes in the price of aircraft fuel. Fuel prices have increased substantially since the middle part of the last decade and have been highly volatile during the last several years. In 2014, our average fuel price per gallon, including the impact of fuel hedges, was $3.47, a 16% increase from our average fuel price in 2013. In 2013, our average fuel price per gallon was $3.00, an 8% decrease from our average fuel price in 2012. In 2012, our average fuel price per gallon was $3.25, a 6% increase from our average fuel price in 2011, which in turn was significantly higher than fuel prices just a few years earlier. Fuel costs represented 35%, 33% and 36% of our operating expense in 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Our ability to pass along the higher fuel costs to our customers may be affected by the competitive nature of the airline industry. Until recently, we often were not able to increase our fares to offset fully the effect of increases in fuel costs and we may not be able to do so in the future. This is particularly the case when fuel prices increase rapidly. Because passengers often purchase tickets well in advance of their travel, a significant rapid increase in fuel price may result in the fare charged not covering that increase.
We acquire a significant amount of jet fuel from our wholly-owned subsidiary, Monroe, and through strategic agreements that Monroe has with third parties. The cost of the fuel we purchase under these arrangements remains subject to volatility in the cost of crude oil and jet fuel. In addition, we continue to purchase a significant amount of aircraft fuel in addition to what we obtain from Monroe. Our aircraft fuel purchase contracts do not provide material protection against price increases as these contracts typically establish the price based on industry standard market price indices.
Significant extended disruptions in the supply of aircraft fuel, including from Monroe, could have a material adverse effect on our operations and operating results.
Weather-related events, natural disasters, political disruptions or wars involving oil-producing countries, changes in governmental policy concerning aircraft fuel production, transportation, taxes or marketing, environmental concerns and other unpredictable events may impact crude oil and fuel supply and could result in shortages in the future. Shortages in fuel supplies could have negative effects on our results of operations and financial condition.
Because we acquire a large amount of our jet fuel from Monroe, the disruption or interruption of production at the refinery could have an impact on our ability to acquire jet fuel needed for our operations. Disruptions or interruptions of production at the refinery could result from various sources including a major accident or mechanical failure, interruption of supply or delivery of crude oil, work stoppages relating to organized labor issues, or damage from severe weather or other natural or man-made disasters, including acts of terrorism. If the refinery were to experience an interruption in operations, disruptions in fuel supplies could have negative effects on our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, the financial benefits we expect to achieve from the operation of the refinery could be materially adversely affected (to the extent not recoverable through insurance) because of lost production and repair costs.
Under one of the strategic agreements that Monroe has with a significant counterparty, Monroe is exchanging non-jet fuel products for jet fuel for use in our airline operations. Monroe is required to deliver specified quantities of non-jet fuel products to the counterparty and the counterparty is required to deliver specified quantities of jet fuel to us. If either party does not have the specified quantity or type of product available, that party is required to procure any such shortage to fulfill its obligation under the agreement. If the refinery experiences a significant interruption in operations, Monroe may be required to expend substantial amounts to purchase the products it is required to deliver, which could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial results of operations.

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In addition, the strategic agreements utilize market prices for the products being exchanged. If Monroe's cost of producing the non-jet fuel products that it is required to deliver under these agreements exceeds the value it receives for those products, the financial benefits we expect to achieve through the ownership of the refinery and our consolidated results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
Our fuel hedging activities are intended to manage the financial impact of the volatility in the price of jet fuel. The effects of rebalancing our hedge portfolio or mark-to-market adjustments may have a negative effect on our financial results.
We actively manage our fuel price risk through a hedging program intended to reduce the financial impact from changes in the price of jet fuel. We utilize different contract and commodity types in this program and frequently test their economic effectiveness against our financial targets. We rebalance the hedge portfolio from time to time according to market conditions, which may result in locking in gains or losses on hedge contracts prior to their settlement dates. In addition, we record mark-to-market adjustments (“MTM adjustments”) on our fuel hedges. MTM adjustments are based on market prices at the end of the reporting period for contracts settling in future periods. Losses from rebalancing or MTM adjustments (or both) may have a negative impact on our financial results.
Our fuel hedge contracts contain margin funding requirements. The margin funding requirements may require us to post margin to counterparties or may cause counterparties to post margin to us as market prices in the underlying hedged items change. If fuel prices decrease significantly from the levels existing at the time we enter into fuel hedge contracts, we may be required to post a significant amount of margin, which could have a material impact on the level of our unrestricted cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments.

We are at risk of losses and adverse publicity stemming from a serious accident involving our aircraft.
An aircraft crash or other accident could expose us to significant liability. Although we believe that our insurance coverage is appropriate, we may be forced to bear substantial losses from an accident in the event that the coverage was not sufficient. In addition, any accident involving an aircraft that we operate or an aircraft that is operated by an airline that is one of our regional carriers or codeshare partners could create a negative public perception, which could harm our reputation, resulting in air travelers being reluctant to fly on our aircraft and therefore harm our business.
Agreements governing our debt, including credit agreements, include financial and other covenants that impose restrictions on our financial and business operations.
Our credit facilities have various financial and other covenants that require us to maintain, depending on the particular agreement, minimum fixed charge coverage ratios, minimum liquidity and/or minimum collateral coverage ratios. The value of the collateral that has been pledged in each facility may change over time due to required appraisals of collateral required by our credit agreements and indentures. These changes could result from factors that are not under our control. Although we are in compliance with covenant and collateral requirements, a decline in the value of collateral could result in a situation where we may not be able to maintain the collateral coverage ratio. In addition, the credit facilities contain other negative covenants customary for such financings. If we fail to comply with these covenants and are unable to remedy or obtain a waiver or amendment, an event of default would result. These covenants are subject to important exceptions and qualifications.
The credit facilities also contain other events of default customary for such financings. If an event of default were to occur, the lenders could, among other things, declare outstanding amounts due and payable, and our cash may become restricted. We cannot provide assurance that we would have sufficient liquidity to repay or refinance the borrowings or notes under any of the credit facilities if such amounts were accelerated upon an event of default. In addition, an event of default or declaration of acceleration under any of the credit facilities could also result in an event of default under other of our financing agreements.


13



Employee strikes and other labor-related disruptions may adversely affect our operations.

Our business is labor intensive, utilizing large numbers of pilots, flight attendants, aircraft maintenance technicians, ground support personnel and other personnel. As of December 31, 2014, approximately 18% of our workforce, primarily pilots, was unionized. Relations between air carriers and labor unions in the United States are governed by the Railway Labor Act, which provides that a collective bargaining agreement between an airline and a labor union does not expire, but instead becomes amendable as of a stated date. The Railway Labor Act generally prohibits strikes or other types of self help actions both before and after a collective bargaining agreement becomes amendable, unless and until the collective bargaining processes required by the Railway Labor Act have been exhausted. Monroe's relations with unions representing its employees are governed by the NLRA, which generally allows self help after a collective bargaining agreement expires.

If we or our subsidiaries are unable to reach agreement with any of our unionized work groups on future negotiations regarding the terms of their collective bargaining agreements or if additional segments of our workforce become unionized, we may be subject to work interruptions or stoppages, subject to the requirements of the Railway Labor Act or the NLRA, as the case may be. Strikes or labor disputes with our unionized employees may adversely affect our ability to conduct business. Likewise, if third-party regional carriers with whom we have contract carrier agreements are unable to reach agreement with their unionized work groups in current or future negotiations regarding the terms of their collective bargaining agreements, those carriers may be subject to work interruptions or stoppages, subject to the requirements of the Railway Labor Act, which could have a negative impact on our operations.

Extended interruptions or disruptions in service at one of our hub or gateway airports could have a material adverse impact on our operations.
Our business is heavily dependent on our operations at the Atlanta airport and at our other hub or gateway airports in Amsterdam, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-LaGuardia, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Tokyo-Narita. Each of these operations includes flights that gather and distribute traffic from markets in the geographic region surrounding the hub or gateway to other major cities and to other Delta hubs and gateways. A significant extended interruption or disruption in service at one of our hubs or gateways could have a material impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Disruptions or security breaches of our information technology infrastructure could interfere with our operations, compromise passenger or employee information and expose us to liability, possibly causing our business and reputation to suffer.
A serious internal technology error or failure impacting systems hosted internally at our data centers or externally at third-party locations, or large scale external interruption in technology infrastructure we depend on, such as power, telecommunications or the internet, may disrupt our technology network. A significant individual, sustained or repeated failure of our network, including third-party networks we utilize and on which we depend, could impact our customer service and result in increased costs.
Our technology systems and related data may also be vulnerable to a variety of sources of interruption, including natural disasters, terrorist attacks, telecommunications failures, computer viruses, hackers and other security issues. While we have in place, and continue to invest in, technology security initiatives and disaster recovery plans, these measures may not be adequate or implemented properly to prevent a business disruption and its adverse financial and reputational consequences to our business.
In addition, as a part of our ordinary business operations, we collect and store sensitive data, including personal information of our passengers and employees and information of our business partners. The secure operation of the networks and systems on which this type of information is stored, processed and maintained is critical to our business operations and strategy.

14



Our information systems are subject to an increasing threat of continually evolving cybersecurity risks. Unauthorized parties may attempt to gain access to our systems or information through fraud or other means of deception. Hardware or software we develop or acquire may contain defects that could unexpectedly compromise information security. The methods used to obtain unauthorized access, disable or degrade service or sabotage systems are constantly evolving, and may be difficult to anticipate or to detect for long periods of time. We regularly review and update procedures and processes to prevent and protect against unauthorized access to our systems and information. However, the constantly changing nature of the threats means that we may not be able to prevent all data security breaches or misuse of data. The compromise of our technology systems resulting in the loss, disclosure, misappropriation of, or access to, customers', employees' or business partners' information could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability or regulatory penalties under laws protecting the privacy of personal information, disruption to our operations and damage to our reputation, any or all of which could adversely affect our business.

We are dependent on technology in our operations. If our technology does not perform reliably, our business may be adversely affected.
We have become increasingly dependent on technology initiatives to enhance customer service, reduce costs and increase operational effectiveness in order to compete in the current business environment. For example, we have made and continue to make significant investments in delta.com, mobile device applications, check-in kiosks and related initiatives, including security for these initiatives. The performance, reliability and security of the technology are critical to our ability to attract and retain customers and our ability to compete effectively. If our technology does not perform reliably, our business and operations could be negatively affected.

Our business is subject to the effects of weather, natural disasters and seasonality, which can cause our results to fluctuate.
Our results of operations are impacted by severe weather, natural disasters and seasonality. Severe weather conditions and natural disasters can significantly disrupt service and create air traffic control problems. These events decrease revenue and can also increase costs. In addition, increases in the frequency, severity or duration of thunderstorms, hurricanes, typhoons or other severe weather events, including from changes in the global climate, could result in increases in delays and cancellations, turbulence-related injuries and fuel consumption to avoid such weather, any of which would increase the potential for greater loss of revenue and higher costs. In addition, demand for air travel is typically higher in the June and September quarters, particularly in international markets, because there is more vacation travel during these periods than during the remainder of the year. The seasonal shifting of demand causes our financial results to vary on a seasonal basis. Because of fluctuations in our results from weather, natural disasters and seasonality, operating results for a historical period are not necessarily indicative of operating results for a future period and operating results for an interim period are not necessarily indicative of operating results for an entire year.

An extended disruption in services provided by our third-party regional carriers could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

We utilize the services of third parties in a number of areas in support of our operations that are integral to our business, including third-party carriers in the Delta Connection program. While we have agreements with these providers that define expected service performance, we do not have direct control over their operations. In particular, third-party regional carriers may face a shortage of qualified pilots due to government mandated increases in flight experience required for pilots working for airlines. If this shortage occurs, third-party regional carriers may not be able to comply with their obligations to us. To the extent that a significant disruption in our regional operations occurs because any of these providers are unable to perform their obligations over an extended period of time, our revenue may be reduced or our expenses may be increased resulting in a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

15



The failure or inability of insurance to cover a significant liability related to an environmental or other incident associated with the operation of the Monroe refinery could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial results.
Monroe's refining operations are subject to various hazards unique to refinery operations, including explosions, fires, toxic emissions and natural catastrophes. Monroe could incur substantial losses, including cleanup costs, fines and other sanctions and third-party claims, and its operations could be interrupted, as a result of such an incident. Monroe's insurance coverage does not cover all potential losses, costs or liabilities and Monroe could suffer losses for uninsurable or uninsured risks or in amounts greater than its insurance coverage. In addition, Monroe's ability to obtain and maintain adequate insurance may be affected by conditions in the insurance market over which it has no control. If Monroe were to incur a significant liability for which it is not fully insured or for which insurance companies do not or are unable to provide coverage, this could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial results of operations or consolidated financial position.
The operation of the refinery by Monroe is subject to significant environmental regulation. Failure to comply with environmental regulations or the enactment of additional regulation could have a negative impact on our consolidated financial results.
Monroe's operations are subject to extensive environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, including those relating to the discharge of materials into the environment, waste management, pollution prevention measures and greenhouse gas emissions. Monroe could incur fines and other sanctions, cleanup costs and third-party claims as a result of violations of or liabilities under environmental, health and safety requirements, which if significant, could have a material adverse effect on our financial results. In addition, the enactment of new environmental laws and regulations, including any laws or regulations relating to greenhouse gas emissions, could significantly increase the level of expenditures required for Monroe or restrict its operations.
Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the EPA has adopted RFS that mandate the blending of renewable fuels into Transportation Fuels. RINs are assigned to renewable fuels produced or imported into the U.S. that are blended into Transportation Fuels to demonstrate compliance with this obligation. A refinery may meet its obligation under RFS by blending the necessary volumes of renewable fuels with Transportation Fuels or by purchasing RINs in the open market or through a combination of blending and purchasing RINs.
Because the refinery operated by Monroe does not blend renewable fuels, it must purchase its entire RINs requirement in the secondary market or obtain a waiver from the EPA. As a result, Monroe is exposed to the market price of RINs. Market prices for RINs have recently been volatile, increasing significantly during 2013 before returning to more moderate levels and then increasing again in late 2014. We cannot predict the future prices of RINs. Purchasing RINs at elevated prices could have a material impact on our results of operations and cash flows.
Existing laws or regulations could change and the minimum volumes of renewable fuels that must be blended with refined petroleum products may increase. Increases in the volume of renewable fuels that must be blended into Monroe's products could limit the refinery's production if sufficient numbers of RINs are not available for purchase or relief from this requirement is not obtained, which could have an adverse effect on our consolidated financial results.

If we lose senior management personnel and other key employees, our operating results could be adversely affected.

We are dependent on the experience and industry knowledge of our officers and other key employees to design and execute our business plans. If we experience a substantial turnover in our leadership and other key employees, and these persons are not replaced by individuals with equal or greater skills, our performance could be materially adversely impacted. Furthermore, we may be unable to attract and retain additional qualified executives as needed in the future.



16



Risk Factors Relating to the Airline Industry

The global airline industry is highly competitive and, if we cannot successfully compete in the marketplace, our business, financial condition and operating results will be materially adversely affected.

The airline industry is highly competitive, marked by significant competition with respect to routes, fares, schedules (both timing and frequency), services, products, customer service and frequent flyer programs. Consolidation in the domestic airline industry, the rise of well-funded government sponsored international carriers, changes in international alliances and the creation of immunized joint ventures have altered and will continue to alter the competitive landscape in the industry by resulting in the formation of airlines and alliances with increased financial resources, more extensive global networks and competitive cost structures.

Our domestic operations are subject to competition from traditional network carriers, including American Airlines and United Airlines, national point-to-point carriers, including Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines, and discount carriers, some of which may have lower costs than we do and provide service at low fares to destinations served by us. Point-to-point, discount and ultra low-cost carriers, including Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air, place significant competitive pressure on network carriers in the domestic market. In particular, we face significant competition at our domestic hub and gateway airports either directly at those airports or at the hubs of other airlines that are located in close proximity to our hubs and gateways. We also face competition in smaller to medium-sized markets from regional jet operations of other carriers. Our ability to compete in the domestic market effectively depends, in part, on our ability to maintain a competitive cost structure. If we cannot maintain our costs at a competitive level, then our business, financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected.

Our international operations are subject to competition from both foreign and domestic carriers. Competition is increasing from well-funded carriers in the Gulf region, including Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. These carriers have large numbers of international widebody aircraft on order and are increasing service to the United States from their hubs in the Middle East. Several of these carriers, along with carriers from China, India and Latin America, are government supported or funded, which has allowed them to grow quickly, reinvest in their product and expand their global presence at the expense of U.S. airlines.

Through alliance and other marketing and codesharing agreements with foreign carriers, U.S. carriers have increased their ability to sell international transportation, such as services to and beyond traditional European and Asian gateway cities. Similarly, foreign carriers have obtained increased access to interior U.S. passenger traffic beyond traditional U.S. gateway cities through these relationships.

In addition, several joint ventures among U.S. and foreign carriers, including our transatlantic and transpacific joint ventures, have received grants of antitrust immunity allowing the participating carriers to coordinate schedules, pricing, sales and inventory. Other joint ventures that have received antitrust immunity include a transatlantic alliance among United Airlines, Air Canada and Lufthansa German Airlines, a transpacific joint venture between United Airlines and All Nippon Airways, a transatlantic joint venture among American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia and a transpacific joint venture between American Airlines and Japan Air Lines.

Increased competition in both the domestic and international markets may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.

The airline industry is subject to extensive government regulation, and new regulations may increase our operating costs.
Airlines are subject to extensive regulatory and legal compliance requirements that result in significant costs. For instance, the FAA from time to time issues directives and other regulations relating to the maintenance and operation of aircraft that necessitate significant expenditures. We expect to continue incurring expenses to comply with the FAA's regulations.
Other laws, regulations, taxes and airport rates and charges have also been imposed from time to time that significantly increase the cost of airline operations or reduce revenues. The industry is heavily taxed. For example, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act mandates the federalization of certain airport security procedures and imposes security requirements on airports and airlines, most of which are funded by a per ticket tax on passengers and a tax on airlines. The federal government adopted a significant increase in the per ticket tax effective in July 2014 and has proposed additional fees. Additional taxes and fees, if implemented, could negatively impact our results of operations.

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Proposals to address congestion issues at certain airports or in certain airspace, particularly in the Northeast U.S., have included concepts such as “congestion-based” landing fees, “slot auctions” or other alternatives that could impose a significant cost on the airlines operating in those airports or airspace and impact the ability of those airlines to respond to competitive actions by other airlines. In addition, the failure of the federal government to upgrade the U.S. air traffic control system has resulted in delays and disruptions of air traffic during peak travel periods in certain congested markets. The failure to improve the air traffic control system could lead to increased delays and inefficiencies in flight operations as demand for U.S. air travel increases, having a material adverse effect on our operations. Failure to update the air traffic control system in a timely manner, and the substantial funding requirements of an updated system that may be imposed on air carriers, may have an adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Future regulatory action concerning climate change, aircraft emissions and noise emissions could have a significant effect on the airline industry. For example, the European Commission adopted an emissions trading scheme applicable to all flights operating in the European Union, including flights to and from the U.S. While enforcement of the scheme has been deferred until April 2017, if fully implemented, we expect that this system would impose additional costs on our operations in the European Union. Other laws or regulations such as this emissions trading scheme or other U.S. or foreign governmental actions may adversely affect our operations and financial results, either through direct costs in our operations or through increases in costs for jet fuel that could result from jet fuel suppliers passing on increased costs that they incur under such a system.
We and other U.S. carriers are subject to domestic and foreign laws regarding privacy of passenger and employee data that are not consistent in all countries in which we operate. In addition to the heightened level of concern regarding privacy of passenger data in the U.S., certain European government agencies are initiating inquiries into airline privacy practices. Compliance with these regulatory regimes is expected to result in additional operating costs and could impact our operations and any future expansion.

Prolonged periods of stagnant or weak economic conditions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
As a result of the discretionary nature of air travel, the airline industry has been cyclical and particularly sensitive to changes in economic conditions. Because we operate globally, with almost 35% of our revenues from operations outside of the U.S., our business is subject to economic conditions throughout the world. During periods of unfavorable economic conditions in the global economy, demand for air travel can be significantly impacted as business and leisure travelers choose not to travel, seek alternative forms of transportation for short trips or conduct business through videoconferencing. If unfavorable economic conditions occur, particularly for an extended period, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, significant or volatile changes in exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and other currencies, and the imposition of exchange controls or other currency restrictions, may have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, financial conditions and results of operations.

Terrorist attacks, geopolitical conflict or security breaches may adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Potential terrorist attacks, geopolitical conflict or security breaches, or fear of such events, even if not made directly on or involving the airline industry, could negatively affect us and the airline industry. The potential negative effects include increased security, insurance costs, impacts from avoiding flight paths over areas in which conflict is occurring, reputational harm and other costs and lost revenue from increased ticket refunds and decreased ticket sales. If any or all of these events occur, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The rapid spread of contagious illnesses can have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

The rapid spread of a contagious illness, or fear of such an event, can have a material adverse effect on the demand for worldwide air travel and therefore have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. Moreover, our operations could be negatively affected if employees are quarantined as the result of exposure to a contagious illness. Similarly, travel restrictions or operational issues resulting from the rapid spread of contagious illnesses in a part of the world in which we operate may have a materially adverse impact on our business and results of operations.


ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.


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ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

Flight Equipment

Our operating aircraft fleet, commitments and options at December 31, 2014 are summarized in the following table:
 
Current Fleet(1)
 
Commitments
 
Aircraft Type
Owned
Capital Lease
Operating Lease
Total
Average Age
Purchase(2)
Lease
Options(2)
B-717-200
6
46
52
12.9
36
B-737-700
10
10
5.7
B-737-800
73
73
13.7
B-737-900ER
21
10
31
0.6
69
30
B-747-400
5
8
13
22.4
B-757-200
90
16
18
124
19.8
B-757-300
16
16
11.6
B-767-300
11
3
2
16
23.7
B-767-300ER
51
5
2
58
18.5
1
B-767-400ER
21
21
13.6
2
B-777-200ER
8
8
14.7
B-777-200LR
10
10
5.5
3
B-787-8
18
A319-100
55
2
57
12.7
A320-200
51
18
69
19.6
A321-200
45
A330-200
11
11
9.5
A330-300
21
21
9.1
10
A330-900neo
25
A350-900
25
MD-88
76
41
117
24.2
MD-90
57
8
65
17.6
Total
587
87
98
772
16.9
192
36
36

(1) 
Excludes certain aircraft we own or lease, which are operated by regional carriers on our behalf shown in the table below.
(2) 
Our purchase commitment for 18 B-787-8 aircraft and option agreements for B-767-300ER, B-767-400ER and B-777-200LR aircraft provide for certain aircraft substitution rights.

The following table summarizes the aircraft fleet operated by our regional carriers on our behalf at December 31, 2014:
 
Fleet Type
 
Carrier
CRJ-200
CRJ-700
CRJ-900(3)
Embraer 145
Embraer 170
Embraer 175
Total
Endeavor Air, Inc.(1)
64
79
143
ExpressJet Airlines, Inc.
53
41
28
122
SkyWest Airlines, Inc.
48
19
32
99
Compass Airlines, Inc.
6
36
42
Chautauqua Airlines, Inc.(2)
41
41
Shuttle America Corporation
14
16
30
GoJet Airlines, LLC
22
22
Total
165
82
139
41
20
52
499

(1) 
Endeavor Air, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta.
(2) 
As of January 1, 2015, Chautauqua Airlines, Inc. and all related aircraft were absorbed into the operations of Shuttle America Corporation.
(3) 
In addition, we have purchase commitments for two CRJ-900 aircraft that will be operated by our regional carriers and options for an additional 30 CRJ-900 aircraft.

19



Aircraft Purchase Commitments

Our purchase commitments for additional aircraft at December 31, 2014 are detailed in the following table:
 
Delivery in Calendar Years Ending
Aircraft Purchase Commitments
2015
2016
2017
After 2017
Total
B-737-900ER
19
19
19
12
69
B-787-8
18
18
A321-200
15
15
15
45
A330-300
4
4
2
10
A330-900neo
25
25
A350-900
6
19
25
CRJ-900
2
2
Total
25
38
42
89
194

Aircraft Options

Our options to purchase additional aircraft at December 31, 2014 are detailed in the following table:
 
Delivery in Calendar Years Ending
Aircraft Options
2015
2016
2017
After 2017
Total
B-737-900ER
5
6
19
30
B-767-300ER
1
1
B-767-400ER
1
1
2
B-777-200LR
1
2
3
CRJ-900
4
24
2
30
Total
5
32
10
19
66

Ground Facilities

Airline Operations

We lease most of the land and buildings that we occupy. Our largest aircraft maintenance base, various computer, cargo, flight kitchen and training facilities and most of our principal offices are located at or near the Atlanta airport, on land leased from the City of Atlanta. We own our Atlanta reservations center, other real property in Atlanta, former Northwest headquarters and flight training buildings, which are located near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and reservations centers in Minot, North Dakota and Chisholm, Minnesota. We also own a 1.3-acre property in downtown Tokyo and a 33-acre land parcel, 512-room hotel and flight kitchen located near Tokyo's Narita International Airport.

We lease ticket counter and other terminal space, operating areas and air cargo facilities in most of the airports that we serve. At most airports, we have entered into use agreements which provide for the non-exclusive use of runways, taxiways and other improvements and facilities; landing fees under these agreements normally are based on the number of landings and weight of aircraft. These leases and use agreements generally run for periods of less than one year to 30 years or more, and often contain provisions for periodic adjustments of lease rates, landing fees and other charges applicable under that type of agreement. We also lease aircraft maintenance and air cargo facilities at several airports. Our facility leases generally require us to pay the cost of providing, operating and maintaining such facilities, including, in some cases, amounts necessary to pay debt service on special facility bonds issued to finance their construction. We also lease marketing, ticketing and reservations offices in certain locations for varying terms.

Refinery Operations

Our wholly-owned subsidiaries, Monroe and MIPC, own and operate the Trainer refinery and related assets in Pennsylvania. The facility includes pipelines and terminal assets that allow the refinery to supply jet fuel to our airline operations throughout the Northeastern U.S., including our New York hubs at LaGuardia and JFK.


20



ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

First Bag Fee Antitrust Litigation
 
In 2009, a number of purported class action antitrust lawsuits were filed against Delta and AirTran Airways (“AirTran”), alleging that Delta and AirTran engaged in collusive behavior in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act in November 2008 based upon certain public statements made in October 2008 by AirTran's CEO at an analyst conference concerning fees for the first checked bag, Delta's imposition of a fee for the first checked bag on November 4, 2008 and AirTran's imposition of a similar fee on November 12, 2008. The plaintiffs sought to assert claims on behalf of an alleged class consisting of passengers who paid the first bag fee after December 5, 2008 and seek injunctive relief and unspecified treble damages. All of these cases have been consolidated for pre-trial proceedings and remain pending in the Northern District of Georgia. A motion for class certification has been filed, but the Court has not yet ruled on it and no class has been certified to date. Delta believes the claims in these cases are without merit and is vigorously defending these lawsuits.

EU Regulation 261 Class Action Litigation

In February 2011, a putative class action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois seeking to represent all U.S. residents who were passengers on flights during the period from February 2009 to the present who are allegedly entitled to compensation under EU Regulation 261 because their flight was cancelled or delayed by more than three hours. Plaintiffs allege that Delta has incorporated a duty to pay this compensation into its contract of carriage, and assert a claim for breach of contract as the basis for their cause of action. The complaint seeks recovery of the EU Regulation 261 compensation of €600 for each U.S. resident on a flight qualifying for such compensation. In October 2013, the District Court granted Delta’s motion to dismiss all claims with prejudice. The plaintiffs have filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which remains pending. Delta disputes the allegations in the Complaint and intends to vigorously defend the matter.


***

For a discussion of certain environmental matters, see “Business-Regulatory Matters-Environmental Matters” in Item 1.

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

21



Part II

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Market Information

Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE"). The following table sets forth for the periods indicated the highest and lowest sales price for our common stock as reported on the NYSE and dividends declared during these periods.

 
Common Stock
Cash Dividends Declared (per share)
 
High
Low
Fiscal 2014
 
 
 
Fourth Quarter
 
$
50.16

 
$
30.12

$
0.09

Third Quarter
 
$
40.97

 
$
34.59

$
0.09

Second Quarter
 
$
42.66

 
$
30.54

$
0.06

First Quarter
 
$
35.85

 
$
27.26

$
0.06

Fiscal 2013
 
 
 
Fourth Quarter
 
$
29.44

 
$
23.63

$
0.06

Third Quarter
 
$
24.10

 
$
18.30

$
0.06

Second Quarter
 
$
19.43

 
$
13.94


First Quarter
 
$
17.25

 
$
11.97



Holders

As of January 31, 2015, there were approximately 3,130 holders of record of our common stock.

Dividends

In the September 2013 quarter, our Board of Directors initiated a quarterly dividend program of $0.06 per share. In the September 2014 quarter, the Board increased the quarterly dividend payment to $0.09 per share. Our ability to pay future dividends is subject to compliance with covenants in several of our credit facilities. In addition, any future determination to pay cash dividends will be at the discretion of the Board of Directors, subject to applicable limitations under Delaware law, and will be dependent upon our results of operations, financial condition, cash requirements, future prospects and other factors deemed relevant by the Board of Directors.



22



Stock Performance Graph

The following graph compares the cumulative total returns during the period from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2014 of our common stock to the Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index and the Amex Airline Index. The comparison assumes $100 was invested on January 1, 2010 in each of our common stock and the indices and assumes that all dividends were reinvested.


Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

The following table presents information with respect to purchases of common stock we made during the December 2014 quarter. The total number of shares purchased includes shares repurchased pursuant to our $2.0 billion share repurchase program, which was publicly announced on May 6, 2014 (the "2014 Repurchase Program"). The 2014 Repurchase Program will terminate no later than December 2016.

In addition, the table includes shares withheld from employees to satisfy certain tax obligations due in connection with grants of stock under the Delta Air Lines, Inc. 2007 Performance Compensation Plan (the "2007 Plan"). The 2007 Plan provides for the withholding of shares to satisfy tax obligations. It does not specify a maximum number of shares that can be withheld for this purpose. The shares of common stock withheld to satisfy tax withholding obligations may be deemed to be “issuer purchases” of shares that are required to be disclosed pursuant to this Item.

Period
Total Number of Shares Purchased
Average Price Paid Per Share
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs
Approximate Dollar Value (in millions) of Shares That May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plan or Programs
October 2014
4,001,416

$
37.29

4,001,416

$
1,501

November 2014
7,718,441

$
42.68

7,718,441

$
1,172

December 2014
508,707

$
44.23

508,707

$
1,150

Total
12,228,564

 
12,228,564

 



23



ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The following tables are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, and present selected financial and operating data for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

Consolidated Summary of Operations
 
Year Ended December 31,
(in millions, except share data)
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
Operating revenue
$
40,362

$
37,773

$
36,670

$
35,115

$
31,755

Operating expense
38,156

34,373

34,495

33,140

29,538

Operating income
2,206

3,400

2,175

1,975

2,217

Other expense, net
(1,134
)
(873
)
(1,150
)
(1,206
)
(1,609
)
Income before income taxes
1,072

2,527

1,025

769

608

Income tax (provision) benefit
(413
)
8,013

(16
)
85

(15
)
Net income
$
659

$
10,540

$
1,009

$
854

$
593

 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic earnings per share
$
0.79

$
12.41

$
1.20

$
1.02

$
0.71

Diluted earnings per share
$
0.78

$
12.29

$
1.19

$
1.01

$
0.70

Cash dividends declared per share
$
0.30

$
0.12

$

$

$


The following special items are included in the results above:
 
Year Ended December 31,
(in millions)
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
MTM adjustments
$
2,346

$
(276
)
$
(27
)
$
26

$

Restructuring and other
716

424

452

242

227

Loss on extinguishment of debt
268


118

68

391

Virgin Atlantic MTM adjustments
134





Release of tax valuation allowance and intraperiod income tax allocation

(7,989
)



Merger-related items




233

Total
$
3,464

$
(7,841
)
$
543

$
336

$
851



Consolidated Balance Sheet Data
 
December 31,
(in millions)
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
Total assets
$
54,121

$
52,252

$
44,550

$
43,499

$
43,188

Long-term debt and capital leases (including current maturities)
$
9,777

$
11,342

$
12,709

$
13,791

$
15,252

Stockholders' equity (deficit)
$
8,813

$
11,643

$
(2,131
)
$
(1,396
)
$
897



24



Other Financial and Statistical Data (Unaudited)
 
Year Ended December 31,
Consolidated(1)
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
Revenue passenger miles (millions)
202,925

194,988

192,974

192,767

193,169

Available seat miles (millions)
239,676

232,740

230,415

234,656

232,684

Passenger mile yield

17.22
¢

16.89
¢

16.46
¢

15.70
¢

14.11
¢
Passenger revenue per available seat mile

14.58
¢

14.15
¢

13.78
¢

12.89
¢

11.71
¢
Operating cost per available seat mile

15.92
¢

14.77
¢

14.97
¢

14.12
¢

12.69
¢
Passenger load factor
84.7
%
83.8
%
83.8
%
82.1
%
83.0
%
Fuel gallons consumed (millions)
3,893

3,828

3,769

3,856

3,823

Average price per fuel gallon(2)
$
3.47

$
3.00

$
3.25

$
3.06

$
2.33

Average price per fuel gallon, adjusted(3)
$
2.87

$
3.07

$
3.26

$
3.05

$
2.33

Full-time equivalent employees, end of period
79,655

77,755

73,561

78,392

79,684

 
(1) 
Includes the operations of our regional carriers under capacity purchase agreements. Full-time equivalent employees exclude employees of regional carriers that we do not own.
(2) 
Includes the impact of fuel hedge activity.
(3) 
Non-GAAP financial measure defined and reconciled in "Operating Expense" sections of Results of Operations - 2014 compared to 2013 and 2013 compared to 2012.


25



ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Financial Highlights - 2014 Compared to 2013

Our pre-tax income for 2014 was $1.1 billion, representing a $1.5 billion decrease compared to prior year as a result of $3.5 billion of special items. Excluding special items, pre-tax income increased $1.9 billion, or 70%, to $4.5 billion primarily driven by higher passenger revenue, lower fuel prices and flat non-fuel unit cost growth.

Revenue. Our passenger revenue increased $2.0 billion, or 6%, compared to prior year due to a 2% increase in passenger mile yield on 4% higher traffic. Passenger revenue per available seat mile ("PRASM") increased 3% on 3% higher capacity. Our ability to maintain revenue momentum was driven by a strong domestic demand environment, higher corporate sales and merchandising initiatives.

Operating Expense. Total operating expense increased $3.8 billion from 2013 driven by the special items noted above and discussed below. Our consolidated operating cost per available seat mile ("CASM") for 2014 increased 8% to 15.92 cents from 14.77 cents in 2013, on a 3% increase in capacity. Non-fuel unit costs ("CASM-Ex," a non-GAAP financial measure) increased 0.2% to 9.16 cents in 2014 compared to 2013.

The increase in total operating expense is primarily due to special items recorded during the year, including $2.3 billion related to unfavorable MTM adjustments on fuel hedges and $716 million of restructuring and other, primarily associated with our fleet restructuring initiatives. The MTM adjustments are based on market prices at the end of the reporting period for contracts settling in future periods and were driven by the significant decrease in crude oil prices during the year (from a high of $115 per barrel in June to a low of $57 per barrel at December 31, 2014). Such market prices are not necessarily indicative of the actual future value of the underlying hedge in the contract settlement period. The fleet restructuring initiatives relate to (1) the early retirement of B-747-400 aircraft associated with our ongoing optimization of the Pacific network and (2) the restructuring of our domestic fleet by replacing a significant portion of our 50-seat regional flying with more efficient and customer preferred CRJ-900 and B-717-200 aircraft and replacing older, less cost effective B-757-200 aircraft with B-737-900ER aircraft.

The increase in our total operating expense also reflects higher profit sharing, higher salaries and related costs and volume-based cost increases driven by the increase in capacity. These increases were partially offset by a reduction in regional carrier expense, primarily related to lower fuel costs. Salaries and related costs are higher primarily due to employee investments.

The non-GAAP financial measures for pre-tax income, adjusted for special items, and CASM-Ex used in this section are defined and reconciled in "Supplemental Information" below.

Company Initiatives

Network Strategy

We are implementing several strategies that are designed to strengthen and expand our global network and presence. These primarily include our investment in and joint venture with Virgin Atlantic and efforts to optimize the Pacific network. In support of these strategies, in the December 2014 quarter, we announced our order for 50 new widebody aircraft for delivery beginning in 2017 consisting of 25 A330-900neo aircraft, which will mainly be deployed across the Atlantic, and 25 A350-900 aircraft, which will primarily serve the Pacific region.

Virgin Atlantic Investment. We own a non-controlling 49% equity stake in Virgin Atlantic Limited, the parent company of Virgin Atlantic Airways. We also have a transatlantic joint venture with Virgin Atlantic Airways with respect to operations on non-stop routes between the United Kingdom and North America, for which we have antitrust immunity. The relationship allows for joint marketing and sales, coordinated pricing and revenue management, network planning and scheduling. Virgin Atlantic has a significant presence at London's Heathrow airport, the airport of choice for business customers traveling to and from London. Along with our state of the art facility at JFK, our relationship with Virgin Atlantic has provided our customers with superior service and connectivity between New York and London. We expect our joint venture with Virgin Atlantic to increase capacity between the U.S. and United Kingdom by approximately 10% to 39 peak daily round trips in 2015. This reflects a substantial increase from the minimal presence we had to the United Kingdom five years ago.


26



Pacific Strategy. As part of the Pacific strategy, we are realigning our Pacific fleet by removing less efficient B-747-400 aircraft and replacing them with smaller gauge widebody aircraft we are redeploying from the transatlantic. The smaller gauge aircraft will help better match capacity with demand in the Pacific and are expected to improve margin. Additionally, as noted above, we will be taking delivery of A350-900 aircraft beginning in 2017, which, when coupled with deliveries of A330-300 aircraft that we will receive over the next several years, will result in a 15-20% reduction in seats per departure and generate a significant improvement in operating cost per seat.

We have also made a significant investment in developing Seattle as a hub and international gateway, which will provide for convenient access to and from the Pacific. We expect to leverage our domestic network to feed traffic into Seattle and increase peak daily departures to 120 in 2015. As a result, Seattle will allow us to offer one-stop service to 95% of our West Coast to Asia traffic flows.

Maintaining Cost Performance

As part of our ongoing efforts to maintain cost performance, we continue to be focused on keeping the rate of CASM-Ex growth at less than 2% annually. Fleet restructuring is an important component of our cost initiatives and is focused on lowering unit costs while enhancing the customer experience. We are restructuring our domestic fleet by replacing a significant portion of our 50-seat regional flying with more efficient and customer preferred CRJ-900 and B-717-200 aircraft and replacing older, less cost effective B-757-200 aircraft with B-737-900ER aircraft. During the year ended December 31, 2014, we took delivery of 26 CRJ-900, 39 B-717-200 and 19 B-737-900ER aircraft. We are retiring a significant portion of the 50-seat regional fleet that we lease as part of the fleet restructuring activities. We expect to continue to recognize restructuring charges, representing the remaining obligations under the leases, as we retire the leased aircraft. Although many factors could change over the period of the 50-seat fleet restructuring, we currently estimate that future charges will be between $50 million to $150 million. As a result of restructuring the fleet, we expect to benefit from improved operational and fuel efficiency, customer service and reduced future maintenance cost that we will experience over the life of the new aircraft.

SkyMiles Program

During the March 2014 quarter, we announced changes to the SkyMiles program. Effective January 1, 2015, the SkyMiles program was modified from a model in which customers earn redeemable mileage credits based on distance traveled to a model based on ticket price. Customers earn between five and 11 miles per dollar spent based on their SkyMiles status, and will continue to earn up to an additional two miles per dollar when using their Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, for a total of up to 13 miles per dollar. The modified program will better reward customers who spend more with Delta and give them improved mileage-earning opportunities. The SkyMiles program includes a new award redemption structure that improves award seat availability at the lowest point redemption levels, offers one-way awards at half the price of round-trip, provides new miles plus cash award options, as well as makes significant improvements to delta.com and Delta reservations award shopping tools.



27



Results of Operations - 2014 Compared to 2013

Operating Revenue
 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase
(Decrease)
% Increase
(Decrease)
(in millions)
2014
2013
Passenger:
 
 
 
 
Mainline
$
28,688

$
26,534

$
2,154

8
 %
Regional carriers
6,266

6,408

(142
)
(2
)%
Total passenger revenue
34,954

32,942

2,012

6
 %
Cargo
934

937

(3
)
 %
Other
4,474

3,894

580

15
 %
Total operating revenue
$
40,362

$
37,773

$
2,589

7
 %

Passenger Revenue
 
 
Increase (Decrease)
vs. Year Ended December 31, 2013
(in millions)
Year Ended December 31, 2014
Passenger Revenue
RPMs (Traffic)
ASMs (Capacity)
Passenger Mile Yield
PRASM
Load Factor
Domestic
$
17,017

12
 %
7
 %
4
 %
5
 %
8
 %
2.0

pts
Atlantic
5,826

3
 %
 %
1
 %
3
 %
2
 %
(0.8
)
pts
Pacific
3,421

(4
)%
(1
)%
 %
(3
)%
(4
)%
(0.9
)
pts
Latin America
2,424

15
 %
17
 %
18
 %
(2
)%
(2
)%
(0.7
)
pts
Total mainline
28,688

8
 %
5
 %
4
 %
3
 %
4
 %
0.7

pts
Regional carriers
6,266

(2
)%
(2
)%
(4
)%
(1
)%
2
 %
1.9

pts
Total consolidated
$
34,954

6
 %
4
 %
3
 %
2
 %
3
 %
0.9

pts

Passenger revenue increased $2.0 billion, or 6%, over prior year. PRASM increased 3% and passenger mile yield increased 2% on 3% higher capacity. Load factor was 0.9 points higher than prior year at 84.7%.

Our geographic regions generally performed well compared to the prior year, with the domestic region leading year-over-year unit revenue improvement. Unit revenues of the domestic region rose 8% led by strong performances from our hubs in Atlanta, New York-LaGuardia and Seattle.

Revenues related to our international regions increased 3% year-over-year primarily due to 18% capacity growth in the Latin America region as a result of our efforts to improve connections with GOL and Aeroméxico. GOL and Aeroméxico contributed a significant portion of the traffic from the U.S. to Brazil and into key Mexico markets, respectively. Despite these contributions, Latin America unit revenues declined 2% as a result of the capacity increase, some business demand weakness associated with the FIFA World Cup in Brazil and economic concerns in Venezuela. Atlantic unit revenue increased 2% driven by yield improvements. While our joint venture with Virgin Atlantic reflected solid revenue growth, especially in London-Heathrow, Atlantic yields experienced pressure from the impact of geopolitical and health concerns related to service to Africa, the Middle East, and Russia. Our Pacific region experienced a 4% decline in unit revenues driven by lower yield, primarily due to the weakening of the Japanese yen.

Other Revenue. Other revenue increased $580 million, or 15%, primarily due to an increase in sales of SkyMiles, settlements associated with our transatlantic joint venture agreements and sales of non-jet fuel products to third parties by our oil refinery.



28



Operating Expense
 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase
(Decrease)
% Increase
(Decrease)
(in millions)
2014
2013
Aircraft fuel and related taxes
$
11,668

$
9,397

$
2,271

24
 %
Salaries and related costs
8,120

7,720

400

5
 %
Regional carrier expense
5,237

5,669

(432
)
(8
)%
Aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs
1,828

1,852

(24
)
(1
)%
Depreciation and amortization
1,771

1,658

113

7
 %
Contracted services
1,749

1,665

84

5
 %
Passenger commissions and other selling expenses
1,700

1,603

97

6
 %
Landing fees and other rents
1,442

1,410

32

2
 %
Profit sharing
1,085

506

579

114
 %
Passenger service
810

762

48

6
 %
Aircraft rent
233

209

24

11
 %
Restructuring and other items
716

402

314

NM(1)

Other
1,797

1,520

277

18
 %
Total operating expense
$
38,156

$
34,373

$
3,783

11
 %

(1) 
Due to the nature of amounts recorded within restructuring and other items, a year-over-year comparison is not meaningful. For a discussion of charges recorded in restructuring and other items, see Note 17 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Fuel Expense. Compared to the prior year, consolidated fuel expense increased $2.0 billion due to unfavorable MTM adjustments on fuel hedges resulting from the significant decrease in crude oil prices during the year (from a high of $115 per barrel in June to a low of $57 per barrel at December 31, 2014) and a 2% increase in consumption, partially offset by an 8% decrease in fuel market price per gallon and increased profitability at Monroe. The table below presents fuel expense, gallons consumed and average price per gallon, including the impact of hedging and the refinery:
 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase
(Decrease)
% Increase
(Decrease)
(in millions, except per gallon data)
2014
2013
Aircraft fuel and related taxes(1)
$
11,668

$
9,397

$
2,271

 
Aircraft fuel and related taxes included within regional carrier expense
1,844

2,067

(223
)
 
Total fuel expense
$
13,512

$
11,464

$
2,048

18
%
 
 
 
 
 
Total fuel consumption (gallons)
3,893

3,828

65

2
%
Average price per gallon
$
3.47

$
3.00

$
0.47

16
%

(1) 
Includes the impact of fuel hedging and refinery results described further in the table below.

The table below shows the impact of hedging and the refinery on fuel expense and average price per gallon, adjusted:
 
 
 
Average Price Per Gallon
 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase
(Decrease)
 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase (Decrease)
(in millions, except per gallon data)
2014
2013
 
2014
2013
Fuel purchase cost
$
11,350

$
11,792

$
(442
)
 
$
2.91

$
3.09

$
(0.18
)
Airline segment fuel hedge losses (gains)(1)
2,258

(444
)
2,702

 
0.58

(0.12
)
0.70

Refinery segment impact(1)
(96
)
116

(212
)
 
(0.02
)
0.03

(0.05
)
Total fuel expense
$
13,512

$
11,464

$
2,048

 
$
3.47

$
3.00

$
0.47

MTM adjustments
(2,346
)
276

(2,622
)
 
(0.60
)
0.07

(0.67
)
Total fuel expense, adjusted
$
11,166

$
11,740

$
(574
)
 
$
2.87

$
3.07

$
(0.20
)

(1) 
Includes the impact of pricing arrangements between the airline and refinery segments with respect to the refinery's inventory price risk.



29



Fuel Purchase Cost. Fuel purchase cost is based on the market price for jet fuel at airport locations.

Airline Segment Fuel Hedge Impact and MTM Adjustments. During the year ended December 31, 2014, our airline segment fuel hedge loss of $2.3 billion resulted from unfavorable MTM adjustments. These MTM adjustments are based on market prices as of the end of the reporting period for contracts settling in future periods. Such market prices are not necessarily indicative of the actual future value of the underlying hedge in the contract settlement period. The MTM adjustments are reflected in the table above to calculate an effective fuel cost for the period.

Refinery Segment Impact. The refinery results include the impact on fuel expense of self-supply from the production of the refinery and from refined products exchanged with certain counterparties. To the extent that we account for exchanges of refined products as nonmonetary transactions, we include the results of those transactions within fuel expense. For additional information regarding the refinery segment impact, see "Refinery Segment" below.

We adjust fuel expense for the items noted above to arrive at a more meaningful measure of fuel cost. Our average price per gallon, adjusted (a non-GAAP financial measure) was $2.87 for the year ended December 31, 2014.

Salaries and Related Costs. The increase in salaries and related costs is primarily due to investments in our employees and an increase in pilot and flight attendant block hours, partially offset by lower pension expense. In 2014, we contributed $917 million to our defined benefit pension plans, including $250 million above the minimum funding requirements.

Regional Carrier Expense. The reduction in regional carrier expense is primarily due to lower fuel expense from both a decrease in the cost of fuel per gallon and a 4% decrease in capacity and fewer required maintenance events. During 2014, we removed thirty-five 50-seat regional aircraft from our fleet as part of our strategy to restructure our domestic fleet.

Aircraft Maintenance Materials and Outside Repairs. Aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs consists of costs associated with maintenance of aircraft used in our operations and costs associated with maintenance sales to third parties by our MRO services business. The reduction in aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs is due primarily to lower engine maintenance volume and a contract settlement charge in 2013, partially offset by a higher volume of cost of sales from our MRO business.

Depreciation and Amortization. Depreciation and amortization expense increased year-over-year primarily due to investments in new B-737-900ER and CRJ-900 aircraft, the purchase of aircraft off-lease and aircraft modifications that upgraded aircraft interiors and enhanced our product offering.

Contracted Services. Contracted services expense increased year-over-year due primarily to costs associated with the 3% increase in capacity.

Passenger Commissions and Other Selling Expenses. Passenger commissions and other selling expenses increased on higher passenger revenue.

Profit Sharing. The increase in profit sharing is driven by an increase in full year pre-tax income, excluding profit sharing and special items, compared to the prior year. Our broad-based employee profit sharing program provides that, for each year in which we have an annual pre-tax profit, as defined by the terms of the program, we will pay a specified portion of that profit to employees. In determining the amount of profit sharing, the program defines profit as pre-tax profit excluding profit sharing and special items, such as MTM adjustments and restructuring and other items. Our profit sharing program pays 10% to employees for the first $2.5 billion of annual profit and 20% of annual profit above $2.5 billion.

Aircraft Rent. Aircraft rent increased year-over-year due primarily to the addition of leased B-717-200 and B-737-900ER aircraft delivered during the year, partially offset by the retirement of certain B-747-400 aircraft.

Other. Other operating expense increased primarily due to costs associated with sales of non-jet fuel products to third parties by our oil refinery.


30



Results of Operations - 2013 Compared to 2012

Operating Revenue
 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase
% Increase
(in millions)
2013
2012
Passenger:
 
 
 
 
Mainline
$
26,534

$
25,173

$
1,361

5
 %
Regional carriers
6,408

6,581

(173
)
(3
)%
Total passenger revenue
32,942

31,754

1,188

4
 %
Cargo
937

990

(53
)
(5
)%
Other
3,894

3,926

(32
)
(1
)%
Total operating revenue
$
37,773

$
36,670

$
1,103

3
 %

Passenger Revenue
 
 
Increase (Decrease)
vs. Year Ended December 31, 2012
(in millions)
Year Ended December 31, 2013
Passenger Revenue
RPMs (Traffic)
ASMs (Capacity)
Passenger Mile Yield
PRASM
Load Factor
Domestic
$
15,204

8
 %
1
 %
2
 %
6
 %
5
 %
(0.8
)
pts
Atlantic
5,657

3
 %
1
 %
(1
)%
2
 %
3
 %
1.2

pts
Pacific
3,561

(2
)%
1
 %
(1
)%
(2
)%
(1
)%
1.3

pts
Latin America
2,112

11
 %
11
 %
8
 %
(1
)%
2
 %
2.3

pts
Total mainline
26,534

5
 %
2
 %
2
 %
3
 %
4
 %
0.3

pts
Regional carriers
6,408

(3
)%
(6
)%
(3
)%
3
 %
1
 %
(1.8
)
pts
Total consolidated
$
32,942

4
 %
1
 %
1
 %
3
 %
3
 %

pts

Passenger revenue increased $1.2 billion, or 4%, on a 3% PRASM increase and a 3% increase in passenger mile yield. Revenue remained strong despite lower fuel prices. In addition, the increase in passenger revenue reflects in-flight product enhancements such as the Economy Comfort product and higher corporate sales.

Our geographic regions performed well compared to the prior year, with the domestic region leading year-over-year unit revenue improvement as a result of higher passenger mile yield. Unit revenues of the domestic region rose by over 5% with notable improvements in the New York market. New York unit revenues increased as we continue to see improvements due to our investments in JFK and LaGuardia, as well as many in-flight product enhancements. Revenues related to our international regions increased 3% year-over-year, with slight unit revenue improvements in both Atlantic and Latin America regions. Our Pacific region experienced a slight decline in unit revenues primarily due to the Japanese yen devaluation.


31



Operating Expense
 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase
(Decrease)
% Increase
(Decrease)
(in millions)
2013
2012
Aircraft fuel and related taxes
$
9,397

$
10,150

$
(753
)
(7
)%
Salaries and related costs
7,720

7,266

454

6
 %
Regional carrier expense
5,669

5,647

22

 %
Aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs
1,852

1,955

(103
)
(5
)%
Depreciation and amortization
1,658

1,565

93

6
 %
Contracted services
1,665

1,566

99

6
 %
Passenger commissions and other selling expenses
1,603

1,590

13

1
 %
Landing fees and other rents
1,410

1,336

74

6
 %
Profit sharing
506

372

134

36
 %
Passenger service
762

732

30

4
 %
Aircraft rent
209

272

(63
)
(23
)%
Restructuring and other items
402

452

(50
)
NM(1)

Other
1,520

1,592

(72
)
(5
)%
Total operating expense
$
34,373

$
34,495

$
(122
)
 %

(1) 
Due to the nature of amounts recorded within restructuring and other items, a year-over-year comparison is not meaningful. For a discussion of charges recorded in restructuring and other items, see Note 17 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Fuel Expense. Including regional carriers, fuel expense decreased $787 million due to a 4% decrease in fuel market price per gallon and fuel hedge gains, partially offset by a 2% increase in consumption. The table below presents fuel expense, gallons consumed and our average price per gallon, including the impact of hedging and the refinery:

 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase (Decrease)
% Increase (Decrease)
(in millions, except per gallon data)
2013
2012
Aircraft fuel and related taxes(1)
$
9,397

$
10,150

$
(753
)
 
Aircraft fuel and related taxes included within regional carrier expense
2,067

2,101

(34
)
 
Total fuel expense
$
11,464

$
12,251

$
(787
)
(6
)%
 
 
 
 
 
Total fuel consumption (gallons)
3,828

3,769

59

2
 %
Average price per gallon
$
3.00

$
3.25

$
(0.25
)
(8
)%
  
(1) 
Includes the impact of fuel hedging and refinery results described further in the table below.

The table below shows the impact of hedging and the refinery on fuel expense and average price per gallon, adjusted:
 
 
 
Average Price Per Gallon
 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase
(Decrease)
 
Year Ended December 31,
Increase
(Decrease)
(in millions, except per gallon data)
2013
2012
 
2013
2012
Fuel purchase cost
$
11,792

$
12,122

$
(330
)
 
$
3.09

$
3.23

$
(0.14
)
Airline segment fuel hedge (gains) losses(1)
(444
)
66

(510
)
 
(0.12
)
0.01

(0.13
)
Refinery segment impact(1)
116

63

53

 
0.03

0.01

0.02

Total fuel expense
$
11,464

$
12,251

$
(787
)
 
$
3.00

$
3.25

$
(0.25
)
MTM adjustments
276

27

249

 
0.07

0.01

0.06

Total fuel expense, adjusted
$
11,740

$
12,278

$
(538
)
 
$
3.07

$
3.26

$
(0.19
)
 
(1) 
Includes the impact of pricing arrangements between the airline and refinery segments with respect to the refinery's inventory price risk.



32



Fuel Purchase Cost. Fuel purchase cost is based on the market price for jet fuel at airport locations.

Airline Segment Fuel Hedge Impact and MTM Adjustments. During the year ended December 31, 2013, our airline segment fuel hedge gains of $444 million included $276 million of favorable MTM adjustments. These MTM adjustments are based on market prices as of the end of the reporting period for contracts settling in future periods. Such market prices are not necessarily indicative of the actual future value of the underlying hedge in the contract settlement period. The MTM adjustments are reflected in the table above to calculate an effective fuel cost for the period.

Refinery Segment Impact. The refinery results include the impact on fuel expense of self-supply from the production of the refinery and from refined products exchanged with certain counterparties. To the extent that we account for exchanges of refined products as nonmonetary transactions, we include the results of those transactions within fuel expense. For additional information regarding the refinery segment impact, see "Refinery Segment" below.

We adjust fuel expense for these items to arrive at a more meaningful measure of fuel cost. Our average price per gallon, adjusted (a non-GAAP financial measure) was $3.07 for the year ended December 31, 2013.

Salaries and Related Costs. The increase in salaries and related costs is primarily due to investments in our employees. During the June 2012 quarter, we reached an agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association ("ALPA") that increased pay and benefits for our pilots. Our pilots and substantially all other employees received base pay increases on July 1, 2012 and received additional increases on January 1, 2013. These increases are designed both to recognize changes to the profit sharing program described below and to accelerate the planned 2013 pay increase for non-pilot employees.

Aircraft Maintenance Materials and Outside Repairs. Aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs consists of costs associated with maintenance of aircraft used in our operations and costs associated with maintenance sales to third parties by our MRO services business. The reduction in aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs is primarily due to a lower volume of sales to third parties of our MRO services and the timing of maintenance events on our fleet.

Depreciation and Amortization. Depreciation and amortization expense increased year-over-year primarily due to our investment in new B-737-900ER and CRJ-900 aircraft, the purchase of aircraft off-lease, and aircraft modifications that upgraded aircraft interiors and enhanced our product offering.

Contracted Services. Contracted services expense increased year-over-year due primarily to the impact of severe winter storms on our operations and costs associated with the 1% increase in capacity.

Landing Fees and Other Rents. Landing fees and other rents increased year-over-year primarily due to our investment in airport facilities.

Profit Sharing. Our broad-based employee profit sharing program provides that, for each year in which we have an annual pre-tax profit, as defined by the terms of the program, we will pay a specified portion of that profit to employees. In determining the amount of profit sharing, the program defines profit as pre-tax profit excluding profit sharing and special items, such as MTM adjustments and restructuring and other items, from pre-tax profit. During the June 2012 quarter, our profit sharing program was modified so that we pay 10% of profits on the first $2.5 billion of annual profits effective with the plan year beginning January 1, 2013 compared to paying 15% of annual profit for the 2012 plan year. Under the program, we will continue to pay 20% of annual profit above $2.5 billion.

Aircraft Rent. Aircraft rent decreased year-over-year due primarily due to the purchase of various aircraft off-lease.


33



Non-Operating Results
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
Favorable (Unfavorable)
(in millions)
2014
2013
2012
 
 2014 vs. 2013
 2013 vs. 2012
Interest expense, net
$
(650
)
$
(852
)
$
(1,005
)
 
$
202

$
153

Loss on extinguishment of debt
(268
)

(118
)
 
(268
)
118

Miscellaneous, net
(216
)
(21
)
(27
)
 
(195
)
6

Total other expense, net
$
(1,134
)
$
(873
)
$
(1,150
)
 
$
(261
)
$
277


The decline in interest expense, net is driven by reduced levels of debt and the refinancing of debt obligations at lower interest rates. Our principal amount of debt and capital leases has declined from $14.4 billion at the beginning of 2012 to $9.9 billion at December 31, 2014.

In each of 2014 and 2012, we extinguished $1.6 billion of existing debt under our secured financing arrangements prior to scheduled maturity. In connection with the extinguishment, we recorded losses of $268 million and $118 million, respectively, for the difference between the principal paid and the carrying value of the debt, which included unamortized discounts or premiums and unamortized issuance costs. The unamortized debt discounts resulted from fair value adjustments recorded in the 2008 purchase accounting of Northwest Airlines. The losses also included premiums paid to retire the debt.

Miscellaneous, net is unfavorable primarily due to our proportionate share of losses from our equity investment in Virgin Atlantic, foreign currency exchange rate losses and a charge associated with the devaluation of the Venezuelan bolivar. The loss from Virgin Atlantic primarily results from unfavorable MTM adjustments on fuel hedges.

Income Taxes

We consider all income sources, including other comprehensive income, in determining the amount of tax (provision) benefit allocated to continuing operations. The following table shows the components of our income tax (provision) benefit:
 
Year Ended December 31,
(in millions)
2014
2013
2012
Current tax (provision) benefit:
 
 
 
Federal
$
21

$
24

$

State and local
(9
)
(3
)
15

International
(11
)
1

(14
)
Deferred tax (provision) benefit:
 
 
 
Federal
(424
)
7,197

(4
)
State and local
10

794

(13
)
Income tax (provision) benefit
$
(413
)
$
8,013

$
(16
)

We released substantially all of our valuation allowance against our net deferred tax assets on December 31, 2013. The release of the allowance primarily resulted in a net tax benefit of $8.0 billion that was recorded in income tax (provision) benefit in our Consolidated Statement of Operations. Our annual effective tax rate for 2014 was 38.5%. At December 31, 2014, we had over $12.0 billion of U.S. federal pre-tax net operating loss carryforwards, which do not begin to expire until 2024. Accordingly, we believe we will not pay any cash federal income taxes during the next few years. See Note 13 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for more information.

During 2012, we did not record an income tax provision for U.S. federal income tax purposes since our deferred tax assets were fully reserved by a valuation allowance.


34



Refinery Segment

The refinery primarily produces gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Under multi-year agreements, Monroe exchanges the non-jet fuel products the refinery produces with third parties for jet fuel consumed in our airline operations. The jet fuel produced and procured through exchanging gasoline and diesel fuel produced by the refinery provided approximately 150,000 barrels (approximately six million gallons) per day for use in airline operations during 2014.

A refinery is subject to EPA requirements that are established each year to blend renewable fuels into the gasoline and on-road diesel fuel it produces. Alternatively, a refinery may purchase renewable energy credits, called RINs, from third parties in the secondary market. Because the refinery operated by Monroe does not blend renewable fuels, it must purchase its entire RINs requirement in the secondary market or obtain a waiver from the EPA. We recognized $111 million and $64 million of expense related to the RINs requirement in 2014 and 2013, respectively, including accruals for our unsettled 2013 and 2014 RINs obligation as of December 31, 2014. We are in possession of the RINs needed to satisfy our 2013 obligation.
The refinery recorded a profit of $96 million in 2014, compared to losses of $116 million and $63 million recorded in 2013 and 2012, respectively. We believe that the increase in jet fuel supply due to the refinery's operation has reduced the overall market price of jet fuel, and thus lowered our cost of jet fuel.

Financial Condition and Liquidity

We expect to meet our cash needs for the next 12 months from cash flows from operations, cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments and financing arrangements. As of December 31, 2014, we had $5.2 billion in unrestricted liquidity, consisting of $3.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments and $1.9 billion in undrawn revolving credit facilities. During 2014, we generated $4.9 billion in cash from operating activities, which we used, along with existing cash, to reduce the principal on our debt and capital lease obligations by $1.9 billion, fund capital expenditures of $2.2 billion and return $1.4 billion to shareholders, while maintaining a solid liquidity position.

Sources of Liquidity

Operating Activities

Cash flows from operating activities continue to provide our primary source of liquidity. We generated positive cash flows from operations of $4.9 billion in 2014, $4.5 billion in 2013 and $2.5 billion in 2012. We also expect to generate positive cash flows from operations in 2015.

Our operating cash flows can be impacted by the following factors:

Seasonality of Advance Ticket Sales. We sell tickets for air travel in advance of the customer's travel date. When we receive a cash payment at the time of sale, we record the cash received on advance sales as deferred revenue in air traffic liability. The air traffic liability increases during the winter and spring as we have increased sales in advance of the summer peak travel season and decreases during the summer and fall months.

Fuel and Fuel Hedge Margins. The cost of jet fuel is our most significant expense, representing approximately 35% of our total operating expenses for 2014. The market price for jet fuel is highly volatile, which can impact the comparability of our cash flows from operations from period to period.

We have jet fuel inventories used in our airline operations at various airport locations and in pipelines. We also have refined oil product inventories that are used in our refinery operations. Jet fuel and refined oil product inventories are recorded as fuel inventory.

As part of our fuel hedging program, we may be required to post margin to counterparties when our portfolio is in a loss position. Conversely, if our portfolio with counterparties is in a gain position, we may receive margin. Our future cash flows are impacted by the nature of our derivative contracts and the market price of the commodities underlying our derivative contracts. As a result of the significant decreases in crude oil prices during 2014, the fair value of our hedge contracts were in a loss position at December 31, 2014, resulting in $925 million of margin postings to counterparties.


35



Timing of SkyMiles Sales. In December 2011, we amended our American Express agreements and agreed to sell $675 million of unrestricted SkyMiles to American Express in each December from 2011 through 2014. Pursuant to the December 2011 amendment, American Express purchased $675 million of unrestricted SkyMiles in each of 2012 and 2013 with the final payment in 2014. The SkyMiles purchased in December 2014 are expected to be utilized by American Express in 2015.

In 2008, we entered into a multi-year extension of our American Express agreements and received $1.0 billion from American Express for an advance purchase of restricted SkyMiles. The agreement, as modified, provided that our obligations with respect to the advance purchase would be satisfied as American Express used the purchased miles over a specified future period (“SkyMiles Usage Period”). During the SkyMiles Usage Period, which commenced in December 2011, American Express utilized SkyMiles valued at $333 million annually over three years instead of paying cash to Delta for SkyMiles used. In December 2013, we and American Express amended this agreement to allow American Express to use the remaining SkyMiles, valued at $285 million, immediately and without restriction. As of December 31, 2014, American Express had utilized the remaining SkyMiles associated with this advance purchase.

Pension Contributions. We sponsor defined benefit pension plans for eligible employees and retirees. These plans are closed to new entrants and are frozen for future benefit accruals. Our funding obligations for these plans are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as modified by the Pension Protection Act of 2006. In 2014, we contributed $917 million to our defined benefit pension plans, including $250 million above the minimum funding requirements. These contributions satisfied the required contributions for our defined benefit plans for 2014 on an accelerated basis. We contributed $914 million in 2013, including $250 million above the minimum funding levels, and $697 million in 2012 to our defined benefit pension plans. We estimate the funding under these plans will total at least $950 million in 2015, including $340 million above the minimum funding requirements.

Profit Sharing. As discussed above, our broad-based employee profit sharing program provides that, for each year in which we have an annual pre-tax profit, as defined by the terms of the program, we will pay a specified portion of that profit to employees. In determining the amount of profit sharing, the program defines profit as pre-tax profit excluding profit sharing and special items, such as MTM adjustments and restructuring and other items. Our profit sharing program pays 10% to employees on the first $2.5 billion of annual profits and 20% of annual profits above $2.5 billion.

We paid $506 million in profit sharing in February 2014 related to our 2013 pre-tax profit and $372 million in 2013 related to our 2012 pre-tax profit in recognition of our employees' contributions toward meeting our financial goals. During the year ended December 2014, we recorded $1.1 billion in profit sharing expense based on 2014 pre-tax profit. To further show our appreciation to our employees, we made an advanced 2014 profit sharing payment totaling more than $300 million, equal to 5% of pay for eligible employees, in October 2014.

Investing Activities

Capital Expenditures. We incurred capital expenditures of $2.2 billion in 2014, $2.6 billion in 2013 and $2.0 billion in 2012. Our capital expenditures were primarily for the purchase of aircraft and aircraft modifications that upgraded aircraft interiors and enhanced our product offering.

We have committed to future aircraft purchases that will require significant capital investment, and have obtained long-term financing commitments for a substantial portion of the purchase price of these aircraft. We expect that we will invest approximately $2.8 billion in 2015 primarily for (1) aircraft, including deliveries of B-737-900ERs and A330-300s, along with advance deposit payments for these and our new A321-200, A330-900neo and A350-900 orders, as well as for (2) aircraft modifications, the majority of which relate to enhancing the cabins of our international fleet. We expect that the 2015 investments will be funded primarily through cash flows from operations.

Short-Term Investments. During the September 2014 quarter, we modified our approach to managing short-term investments by investing $1.5 billion of cash reserves in externally managed investment accounts. These new investments are comprised of U.S. government and agency securities, asset- and mortgage-backed securities, corporate obligations and other fixed term securities. The new approach is expected to generate a greater return with a low level of risk due to diversification.

36




Financing Activities

Debt and Capital Leases. Our principal amount of debt and capital leases has declined from $14.4 billion at the beginning of 2012 to $9.9 billion at December 31, 2014. Since December 31, 2009, we have reduced our principal amount of debt and capital leases by $8.4 billion. We have focused on reducing our total debt in recent years as part of our strategy to strengthen our balance sheet. In addition, we have refinanced debt to reduce our total future interest expense.

Capital Returns to Shareholders. In May 2013, we announced a plan to return more than $1 billion to shareholders over the next three years. As part of this plan, our Board of Directors initiated a quarterly dividend program and a $500 million share repurchase program, which was to be completed no later than June 30, 2016. We completed this share repurchase authorization during the June 2014 quarter.

In May 2014, we announced the next phase of capital returns to shareholders. The Board of Directors approved a program to increase the quarterly dividend by 50% to $0.09 per share beginning in the September 2014 quarter and authorized a new $2 billion share repurchase program to be completed no later than December 31, 2016. Together, the increased dividend program and the new repurchase program are expected to return $2.75 billion to shareholders through 2016. During the year ended December 31, 2014, we repurchased and retired 21.3 million shares at a cost of $850 million under the new program. Including the shares repurchased under the May 2013 share repurchase authorization, we repurchased and retired 28.6 million shares at a cost of $1.1 billion for the year ended December 31, 2014.

On October 24, 2014, the Board of Directors declared a $0.09 per share dividend for shareholders of record as of November 7, 2014. This dividend was paid in December 2014 and totaled $75 million. Including dividend payments in the first three quarters, we paid $251 million of dividends for the year ended December 31, 2014. On February 6, 2015, the Board of Directors declared a $0.09 per share dividend for shareholders of record as of February 20, 2015.

Undrawn Lines of Credit

We have available $1.9 billion in undrawn revolving lines of credit. Our credit facilities have covenants, including minimum collateral coverage ratios. If we are not in compliance with these covenants, we may be required to repay amounts borrowed under the credit facilities or we may not be able to draw on them. We currently have a substantial amount of unencumbered assets available to pledge as collateral.

Covenants

We were in compliance with the covenants in our financing agreements at December 31, 2014.



37



Contractual Obligations

The following table summarizes our contractual obligations at December 31, 2014 that we expect will be paid in cash. The table does not include amounts that are contingent on events or other factors that are uncertain or unknown at this time, including legal contingencies, uncertain tax positions and amounts payable under collective bargaining arrangements, among others. In addition, the table does not include expected significant cash payments representing obligations that arise in the ordinary course of business that do not include contractual commitments.

The amounts presented are based on various estimates, including estimates regarding the timing of payments, prevailing interest rates, volumes purchased, the occurrence of certain events and other factors. Accordingly, the actual results may vary materially from the amounts presented in the table.

 
Contractual Obligations by Year(1)
(in millions)
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Thereafter
Total
Long-term debt (see Note 8)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Principal amount
$
1,111

$
1,326

$
2,137

$
2,028

$
1,158

$
1,709

$
9,469

Interest payments
404

335

266

208

130

328

1,671

Capital lease obligations (see Note 9)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Principal amount
108

106

78

40

28

38

398

Interest payments
49

33

19

11

5

4

121

Operating lease payments
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    Noncancelable payments (see Note 9)
1,707

1,493

1,323

1,120

929

6,169

12,741

    Future aircraft leases
25

49

49

47

48

445

663

Aircraft purchase commitments (see Note 12)
1,480

1,970

2,390

2,230

1,060

4,820

13,950

Contract carrier obligations (see Note 12)
2,220

1,930

1,720

1,550

1,430

2,370

11,220

Employee benefit obligations (see Note 11)
770

680

650

740

680

8,320

11,840

Other obligations
630

310

260

180

70

210

1,660

Total
$
8,504

$
8,232

$
8,892

$
8,154

$
5,538

$
24,413

$
63,733

 
(1) 
For additional information, see the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements referenced in the table above.

Long-Term Debt, Principal Amount. Represents scheduled principal payments on long-term debt.

Long-Term Debt, Interest Payments. Represents estimated interest payments under our long-term debt based on the interest rates specified in the applicable debt agreements. Interest payments on variable interest rate debt were calculated using LIBOR at December 31, 2014.

Operating Lease Payments, Future Aircraft Leases. Represents estimates of lease payments on the remaining 36 B-717-200 aircraft still to be delivered in 2015 pursuant to our lease agreement with Southwest Airlines and on the subsequent lease agreement with The Boeing Company on our B-717-200 fleet.

Aircraft Purchase Commitments. Represents our commitments to purchase 69 B-737-900ER, 45 A321-200, 25 A330-900neo, 25 A350-900, 18 B-787-8, 10 A330-300 and two CRJ-900 aircraft. Our purchase commitment for the 18 B-787-8 aircraft provides for certain aircraft substitution rights.

Contract Carrier Obligations. Represents our estimated minimum fixed obligations under capacity purchase agreements with regional carriers. The reported amounts are based on (1) the required minimum levels of flying by our contract carriers under the applicable agreements and (2) assumptions regarding the costs associated with such minimum levels of flying.

Employee Benefit Obligations. Represents primarily (1) our estimated minimum required funding for our qualified defined benefit pension plans based on actuarially determined estimates and (2) projected future benefit payments from our unfunded postretirement and postemployment plans. For additional information about our employee benefit obligations, see “Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates.”


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Other Obligations. Represents estimated purchase obligations under which we are required to make minimum payments for goods and services, including, but not limited to, insurance, marketing, maintenance, technology, sponsorships and other third-party services and products.


Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

Our critical accounting policies and estimates are those that require significant judgments and estimates. Accordingly, the actual results may differ materially from these estimates. For a discussion of these and other accounting policies, see Note 1 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Frequent Flyer Program

Our frequent flyer program (the “SkyMiles Program”) offers incentives to travel on Delta. This program allows customers to earn mileage credits by flying on Delta, regional air carriers with which we have contract carrier agreements and airlines that participate in the SkyMiles Program, as well as through participating companies such as credit card companies, hotels and car rental agencies. We sell mileage credits to non-airline businesses, customers and other airlines. Effective January 1, 2015, the SkyMiles program was modified from a model in which customers earn redeemable mileage credits based on distance traveled to a model based on ticket price. This award change did not affect the way we account for the program.

The SkyMiles Program includes two types of transactions that are considered revenue arrangements with multiple deliverables. As discussed below, these are (1) passenger ticket sales earning mileage credits and (2) the sale of mileage credits to participating companies with which we have marketing agreements. Mileage credits are a separate unit of accounting as they can be redeemed by customers in future periods for air travel on Delta and participating airlines, membership in our Sky Club and other program awards.

Passenger Ticket Sales Earning Mileage Credits. Passenger ticket sales earning mileage credits under our SkyMiles Program provide customers with two deliverables: (1) mileage credits earned and (2) air transportation. We value each deliverable on a standalone basis. Our estimate of the selling price of a mileage credit is based on an analysis of our sales of mileage credits to other airlines and customers, which is re-evaluated at least annually. We use established ticket prices to determine the estimated selling price of air transportation. We allocate the total amount collected from passenger ticket sales between the deliverables based on their relative selling prices.

We defer revenue for the mileage credits related to passenger ticket sales and recognize it as passenger revenue when miles are redeemed and services are provided. We record the air transportation portion of the passenger ticket sales in air traffic liability and recognize these amounts in passenger revenue when we provide transportation or when the ticket expires unused. A hypothetical 10% increase in our estimate of the standalone selling price of a mileage credit would decrease passenger revenue by approximately $53 million, as a result of an increase in the amount of revenue deferred from the mileage component of passenger ticket sales.

Sale of Mileage Credits. Customers may earn mileage credits through participating companies such as credit card companies, hotels and car rental agencies with which we have marketing agreements to sell mileage credits. Our contracts to sell mileage credits under these marketing agreements have multiple deliverables, as defined below.

Our most significant contract to sell mileage credits relates to our co-brand credit card relationship with American Express. In December 2014, we amended our marketing agreements with American Express which increased the value we will receive under the agreements and extended the term to 2022. The amended agreements became effective January 1, 2015. The deliverables under the amended agreements are substantially similar to the previous agreement. We will account for the amended agreements consistent with the accounting method adopted in September 2013 that allocates the consideration received to the individual products and services delivered based on their relative selling prices. The increased value received under the amended agreements will increase the amount of deferred revenue for the travel component and increase the value of the other deliverables, which are recognized in other revenue as they are provided.


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In September 2013, we modified our marketing agreements with American Express that required us to change the accounting method for recording SkyMiles sold. Under the previous method, the embedded premium or discount was allocated to the residual products or services in a combined transaction. The new method allocates consideration received based on the relative selling price of each product or service. We determined our best estimate of the selling prices by considering discounted cash flow analysis using multiple inputs and assumptions, including: (1) the expected number of miles awarded and number of miles redeemed, (2) the rate at which we sell mileage credits to other airlines, (3) published rates on our website for baggage fees, access to Delta Sky Club lounges and other benefits while traveling on Delta and (4) brand value. The impact of adopting the relative selling price method re-allocated a portion of the embedded discount to the travel component, lowering the deferral rate we use to record miles sold under the agreements and increasing revenue recognized on the remaining deliverables.

We recognize revenue as we deliver each sales element. We defer the travel deliverable (miles) as part of frequent flyer deferred revenue and recognize passenger revenue as the mileage credits are used for travel. The revenue allocated to the remaining deliverables is recorded in other revenue. We recognize the revenue for these services as they are performed.

Breakage. For mileage credits that we estimate are not likely to be redeemed (“breakage”), we recognize the associated value proportionally during the period in which the remaining mileage credits are expected to be redeemed. Management uses statistical models to estimate breakage based on historical redemption patterns. A change in assumptions as to the period over which mileage credits are expected to be redeemed, the actual redemption activity for mileage credits or the estimated fair value of mileage credits expected to be redeemed could have a material impact on our revenue in the year in which the change occurs and in future years. At December 31, 2014, the aggregate deferred revenue balance associated with the SkyMiles Program was $4.2 billion. A hypothetical 1% change in the number of outstanding miles estimated to be redeemed would result in a $28 million impact on our deferred revenue liability at December 31, 2014.

Goodwill and Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets

We apply a fair value-based impairment test to the carrying value of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets on an annual basis (as of October 1) and, if certain events or circumstances indicate that an impairment loss may have been incurred, on an interim basis. We assess the value of our goodwill and indefinite-lived assets under either a qualitative or quantitative approach. Under a qualitative approach, we consider various market factors, including the key assumptions listed below. We analyze these factors to determine if events and circumstances have affected the fair value of goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets. If we determine that it is more likely than not that the asset may be impaired, we use the quantitative approach to assess the asset's fair value and the amount of the impairment. Under a quantitative approach, we calculate the fair value of the asset using the key assumptions listed below. If the asset's carrying value exceeds its fair value calculated using the quantitative approach, we will record an impairment charge for the difference in fair value and carrying value.

When we evaluate goodwill for impairment using a quantitative approach, we estimate the fair value of the reporting unit by considering market capitalization and other factors. When we perform a quantitative impairment assessment of our indefinite-lived intangible assets, fair value is estimated based on (1) recent market transactions, where available, (2) a combination of limited market transactions and the lease savings method for certain airport slots (which reflects potential lease savings from owning the slots rather than leasing them from another airline at market rates), (3) the royalty method for the Delta tradename (which assumes hypothetical royalties generated from using our tradename) or (4) projected discounted future cash flows (an income approach).

Key Assumptions. The key assumptions in our impairment tests include: (1) forecasted revenues, expenses and cash flows, (2) terminal period revenue growth and cash flows, (3) an estimated weighted average cost of capital, (4) assumed discount rates depending on the asset and (5) a tax rate. These assumptions are consistent with those hypothetical market participants would use. Since we are required to make estimates and assumptions when evaluating goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment, actual transaction amounts may differ materially from these estimates. In addition, we consider the amount by which the intangible assets' fair value exceeded their carrying value in the most recent fair value measurement calculated using a quantitative approach.

Changes in certain events and circumstances could result in impairment. Factors which could cause impairment include, but are not limited to, (1) negative trends in our market capitalization, (2) reduced profitability resulting from lower passenger mile yields or higher input costs (primarily related to fuel and employees), (3) lower passenger demand as a result of weakened U.S. and global economies, (4) interruption to our operations due to a prolonged employee strike, terrorist attack, or other reasons, (5) changes to the regulatory environment (e.g., diminished slot restrictions or additional Open Skies agreements), (6) competitive changes by other airlines and (7) strategic changes to our operations leading to diminished utilization of the intangible assets.

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We assessed each of the above assumptions in our most recent impairment analyses. The combination of our most recently completed annual results and our projected revenues, expenses and cash flows more than offset any negative events and circumstances. The stabilizing operating environment for U.S. airlines has resulted in annual yields increasing along with load factors, leading to improved financial results.

Goodwill. Our goodwill balance, which is related to the airline segment, was $9.8 billion at December 31, 2014. We determined that there was no indication that Goodwill was impaired based upon our qualitative assessment of all relevant factors, including applicable factors noted in "Key Assumptions" above.

Identifiable Intangible Assets. Our identifiable intangible assets, which are related to the airline segment, had a net carrying amount of $4.6 billion at December 31, 2014, of which $4.4 billion related to indefinite-lived intangible assets. Indefinite-lived assets are not amortized and consist primarily of routes, slots, the Delta tradename and assets related to SkyTeam and collaborative arrangements. Definite-lived assets consist primarily of marketing and partner agreements.

In 2014, we performed a quantitative assessment of our Pacific routes and slots indefinite-lived intangible asset and determined that there was no indication that the asset was impaired. We obtained this asset as part of the acquisition of Northwest Airlines in 2008 and is composed of Pacific route authorities and takeoff and landing rights (“slots”) at Tokyo-Narita International Airport ("Narita"). This intangible asset supports Delta’s Narita hub activities and is essential to Delta's Pacific network. As of the 2014 assessment, the estimated fair value of the Pacific routes and slots intangible asset exceeded the $2.2 billion carrying value by approximately 20%. Changes in key inputs and assumptions, including (1) our strategy related to the composition of our Pacific network and flying, (2) new or enhanced joint ventures or alliances, (3) foreign currency exchange rates, (4) fuel costs and (5) Pacific region profitability, could impact the value of this asset in the future.

We performed a qualitative assessment of all other indefinite-lived intangible assets and determined that there was no indication that our indefinite-lived intangible assets were impaired. The qualitative assessments included analyses and weighting of all relevant factors, including the applicable factors noted above, which impact the fair value of our indefinite-lived intangible assets.

Long-Lived Assets

Our flight equipment and other long-lived assets have a recorded value of $21.9 billion at December 31, 2014. This value is based on various factors, including the assets' estimated useful lives and salvage values. We record impairment losses on flight equipment and other long-lived assets used in operations when events and circumstances indicate the assets may be impaired and the estimated future cash flows generated by those assets are less than their carrying amounts. Factors which could cause impairment include, but are not limited to, (1) a decision to permanently remove flight equipment or other long-lived assets from operations, (2) significant changes in the estimated useful life, (3) significant changes in projected cash flows, (4) permanent and significant declines in fleet fair values and (5) changes to the regulatory environment. For long-lived assets held for sale, we discontinue depreciation and record impairment losses when the carrying amount of these assets is greater than the fair value less the cost to sell.

To determine whether impairments exist for aircraft used in operations, we group assets at the fleet-type level (the lowest level for which there are identifiable cash flows) and then estimate future cash flows based on projections of capacity, passenger mile yield, fuel costs, labor costs and other relevant factors. If an impairment occurs, the impairment loss recognized is the amount by which the fleet's carrying amount exceeds its estimated fair value. We estimate aircraft fair values using published sources, appraisals and bids received from third parties, as available.

Income Tax Valuation Allowance

We periodically assess whether it is more likely than not that we will generate sufficient taxable income to realize our deferred income tax assets. We establish valuation allowances if it is not likely we will realize our deferred income tax assets. In making this determination, we consider all available positive and negative evidence and make certain assumptions. We consider, among other things, projected future taxable income, scheduled reversals of deferred tax liabilities, the overall business environment, our historical financial results, and tax planning strategies. In evaluating the likelihood of utilizing our net deferred income tax assets, the significant factors that we consider include (1) our recent history of profitability, (2) growth in the U.S. and global economies, (3) forecast of airline revenue trends, (4) estimate of future fuel prices and (5) future impact of taxable temporary differences.


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We recorded a full valuation allowance in 2004 due to our cumulative loss position at that time. During 2013, after considering all positive and negative evidence, we concluded that our deferred income tax assets are more likely than not to be realized. Accordingly, we released substantially all of the valuation allowance against our net deferred income tax assets. We recognized an $8.0 billion benefit in our provision for income taxes, primarily related to the valuation allowance release.

At the end of 2014 our net deferred tax asset balance was $7.6 billion, against which we maintained a $46 million valuation allowance, primarily related to state net operating losses with limited expiration periods.

Defined Benefit Pension Plans

We sponsor defined benefit pension plans for eligible employees and retirees. These plans are closed to new entrants and frozen for future benefit accruals. As of December 31, 2014, the unfunded benefit obligation for these plans recorded on our Consolidated Balance Sheet was $12.5 billion. During 2014, we contributed $917 million to these plans and recorded $233 million of expense in salaries and related costs on our Consolidated Statement of Operations. In 2015, we estimate we will contribute at least $950 million to these plans, including $340 million of contributions above the minimum funding requirements, and that our expense will be approximately $250 million. The most critical assumptions impacting our defined benefit pension plan obligations and expenses are the discount rate, the expected long-term rate of return on plan assets and life expectancy.

Weighted Average Discount Rate. We determine our weighted average discount rate on our measurement date primarily by reference to annualized rates earned on high quality fixed income investments and yield-to-maturity analysis specific to our estimated future benefit payments. We used a weighted average discount rate to value the obligations of 4.14% and 5.01% at December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. Our weighted average discount rate for net periodic pension benefit cost in each of the past three years has varied from the rate selected on our measurement date, ranging from 4.10% to 4.99% between 2014 and 2012.

Expected Long-Term Rate of Return. Our expected long-term rate of return on plan assets is based primarily on plan-specific investment studies using historical market return and volatility data. Modest excess return expectations versus some public market indices are incorporated into the return projections based on the actively managed structure of the investment programs and their records of achieving such returns historically. We also expect to receive a premium for investing in less liquid private markets. We review our rate of return on plan asset assumptions annually. Our annual investment performance for one particular year does not, by itself, significantly influence our evaluation. Our actual historical annualized three and five year rate of return on plan assets for our defined benefit pension plans was approximately 11% and 9%, respectively, as of December 31, 2014. The investment strategy for our defined benefit pension plan assets is to earn a long-term return that meets or exceeds our annualized return target while taking an acceptable level of risk and maintaining sufficient liquidity to pay current benefits and other cash obligations of the plan. This is achieved by investing in a globally diversified mix of public and private equity, fixed income, real assets, hedge funds, and other assets and instruments. Our expected long-term rate of return on assets for net periodic pension benefit cost for the year ended December 31, 2014 was 9%.

Life Expectancy. We have historically utilized the Society of Actuaries' ("SOA") published mortality data in developing a best estimate of life expectancy. On October 27, 2014, the SOA published updated mortality tables for U.S. plans and an updated improvement scale, which both reflect improved longevity. Based on an evaluation of these new tables and our perspective of future longevity, we updated the mortality assumptions for purposes of measuring pension and other postretirement and postemployment benefit obligations at December 31, 2014. The improvement in life expectancy increases our benefit obligations and future expense as benefit payments are paid over an extended period of time.

The impact of a 0.50% change in these assumptions is shown in the table below:
Change in Assumption
 Effect on 2015
Pension Expense
Effect on Accrued
Pension Liability at
December 31, 2014
0.50% decrease in weighted average discount rate
-$4 million
+$1.5 billion
0.50% increase in weighted average discount rate
-$3 million
-$1.4 billion
0.50% decrease in expected long-term rate of return on assets
+$48 million
0.50% increase in expected long-term rate of return on assets
-$48 million


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Funding. Our funding obligations for qualified defined benefit plans are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 allows commercial airlines to elect alternative funding rules (“Alternative Funding Rules”) for defined benefit plans that are frozen. Delta elected the Alternative Funding Rules under which the unfunded liability for a frozen defined benefit plan may be amortized over a fixed 17-year period and is calculated using an 8.85% discount rate.

While the Pension Protection Act makes our funding obligations for these plans more predictable, factors outside our control continue to have an impact on the funding requirements. Estimates of future funding requirements are based on various assumptions and can vary materially from actual funding requirements. Assumptions include, among other things, the actual and projected market performance of assets; statutory requirements; and demographic data for participants. For additional information, see Note 11 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Recent Accounting Standards

Revenue from Contracts with Customers

In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") issued Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") No. 2014-09, "Revenue from Contracts with Customers." While the standard supersedes existing revenue recognition guidance, it closely aligns with current GAAP. Under the new standard, revenue is recognized at the time a good or service is transferred to a customer for the amount of consideration received for that specific good or service. It is effective for annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2016, including interim reporting periods, and early adoption is not permitted. Entities may use a full retrospective approach or report the cumulative effect as of the date of adoption. We are currently evaluating the impact, if any, the adoption of this standard will have on our Consolidated Financial Statements.

Reporting of Amounts Reclassified Out of Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income

In February 2013, the FASB issued ASU No. 2013-02, "Comprehensive Income." The standard revises the reporting of items reclassified out of accumulated other comprehensive income and is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2012. We adopted this guidance in the March 2013 quarter and have presented amounts reclassified out of accumulated other comprehensive income in a note to the financial statements. For additional information, see Note 15.

Presentation of Comprehensive Income

In June 2011, the FASB issued ASU No. 2011-05, "Presentation of Comprehensive Income." The standard revises the presentation and prominence of the items reported in other comprehensive income and is effective retrospectively for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2011. We adopted this standard in 2012 and have presented comprehensive income in our Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income (Loss).


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Supplemental Information

We sometimes use information ("non-GAAP financial measures") that is derived from the Consolidated Financial Statements, but that is not presented in accordance with GAAP. Under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules, non-GAAP financial measures may be considered in addition to results prepared in accordance with GAAP, but should not be considered a substitute for or superior to GAAP results.

The following table shows a reconciliation of pre-tax income (a GAAP measure) to pre-tax income, adjusted (a non-GAAP financial measure). We exclude the following items from pre-tax income to determine pre-tax income, adjusted for the reasons described below:

MTM adjustments. MTM adjustments are based on market prices at the end of the reporting period for contracts settling in future periods. Such market prices are not necessarily indicative of the actual future value of the underlying hedge in the contract settlement period. Therefore, excluding these adjustments allows investors to better understand and analyze the company's core operational performance in the periods shown.

Restructuring and other. Because of the variability in restructuring and other, the exclusion of this item is helpful to investors to analyze our recurring core operational performance in the periods shown.

Loss on extinguishment of debt. Because of the variability in loss on extinguishment of debt, the exclusion of this item is helpful to investors to analyze the company's recurring core operational performance in the periods shown.

Virgin Atlantic MTM adjustments. We record our proportionate share of earnings from our equity investment in Virgin Atlantic in other expense. We exclude Virgin Atlantic's MTM adjustments to allow investors to better understand and analyze the company’s financial performance in the periods shown.

 
Year Ended December 31,
(in millions)
2014
2013
Pre-tax income
$
1,072

$
2,527

Items excluded:
 
 
MTM adjustments
2,346

(276
)
Restructuring and other
716

424

Loss on extinguishment of debt
268


Virgin Atlantic MTM adjustments
134


Pre-tax income, adjusted
$
4,536

$
2,675



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The following table shows a reconciliation of CASM (a GAAP measure) to CASM-Ex (a non-GAAP financial measure). We exclude the following items from CASM to determine CASM-Ex for the reasons described:

Aircraft fuel and related taxes. The volatility in fuel prices impacts the comparability of year-over-year financial performance. The exclusion of aircraft fuel and related taxes (including our regional carriers) allows investors to better understand and analyze our non-fuel costs and our year-over-year financial performance.

Profit sharing. We exclude profit sharing because this exclusion allows investors to better understand and analyze our recurring cost performance and provides a more meaningful comparison of our core operating costs to the airline industry.

Restructuring and other. Because of the variability in restructuring and other, the exclusion of this item is helpful to investors to analyze our recurring core operational performance in the periods shown.

Other expenses. Other expenses include aircraft maintenance and staffing services we provide to third parties, our vacation wholesale operations and refinery cost of sales to third parties. Because these businesses are not related to the generation of a seat mile, we exclude the costs related to these sales to provide a more meaningful comparison of the costs of our airline operations to the rest of the airline industry.

 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2014
2013
CASM

15.92
¢

14.77
¢
Items excluded:
 
 
Aircraft fuel and related taxes
(5.64
)
(4.92
)
Profit sharing
(0.45
)
(0.22
)
Restructuring and other
(0.30
)
(0.17
)
Other expenses
(0.37
)
(0.32
)
CASM-Ex

9.16
¢

9.14
¢


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Glossary of Defined Terms

ASM - Available Seat Mile. A measure of capacity. ASMs equal the total number of seats available for transporting passengers during a reporting period multiplied by the total number of miles flown during that period.

CASM - (Operating) Cost per Available Seat Mile. The amount of operating cost incurred per ASM during a reporting period.

CASM-Ex - The amount of operating cost incurred per ASM during a reporting period, excluding aircraft fuel and related taxes, profit sharing, restructuring and other items and other expenses, including aircraft maintenance and staffing services we provide to third parties, our vacation wholesale operations and refinery cost of sales to third parties.

Passenger Load Factor - A measure of utilized available seating capacity calculated by dividing RPMs by ASMs for a reporting period.

Passenger Mile Yield or Yield - The amount of passenger revenue earned per RPM during a reporting period.

PRASM - Passenger Revenue per ASM. The amount of passenger revenue earned per ASM during a reporting period. PRASM is also referred to as “unit revenue.”

RPM - Revenue Passenger Mile. One revenue-paying passenger transported one mile. RPMs equal the number of revenue passengers during a reporting period multiplied by the number of miles flown by those passengers during that period. RPMs are also referred to as “traffic.”


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ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

We have market risk exposure related to aircraft fuel prices, interest rates and foreign currency exchange rates. Market risk is the potential negative impact of adverse changes in these prices or rates on our Consolidated Financial Statements. In an effort to manage our exposure to these risks, we enter into derivative contracts and may adjust our derivative portfolio as market conditions change. We expect adjustments to the fair value of financial instruments to result in ongoing volatility in earnings and stockholders' equity.

The following sensitivity analysis does not consider the effects of a change in demand for air travel, the economy as a whole or actions we may take to seek to mitigate our exposure to a particular risk. For these and other reasons, the actual results of changes in these prices or rates may differ materially from the following hypothetical results.

Aircraft Fuel Price Risk

Changes in aircraft fuel prices materially impact our results of operations. We actively manage our fuel price risk through a hedging program intended to reduce the financial impact from changes in the price of jet fuel. We utilize different contract and commodity types in this program and frequently test their economic effectiveness against our financial targets. We rebalance the hedge portfolio from time to time according to market conditions, which may result in locking in gains or losses on hedge contracts prior to their settlement dates.

Our fuel hedge portfolio consists of options, swaps and futures. The hedge contracts include crude oil, diesel fuel and jet fuel, as these commodities are highly correlated with the price of jet fuel that we consume. Our fuel hedge contracts contain margin funding requirements. The margin funding requirements may cause us to post margin to counterparties or may cause counterparties to post margin to us as market prices in the underlying hedged items change. If fuel prices change significantly from the levels existing at the time we enter into fuel hedge contracts, we may be required to post a significant amount of margin. We may adjust our hedge portfolio from time to time in response to margin posting requirements.

For the year ended December 31, 2014, aircraft fuel and related taxes, including our regional carriers, accounted for $13.5 billion, or 35%, of our total operating expense. We recognized $2.0 billion of fuel hedge losses during the year ended December 31, 2014, due to unfavorable MTM adjustments.

The following table shows the projected cash impact to fuel cost assuming 20% and 40% increases or decreases in fuel prices. The hedge gain (loss) reflects the change in the projected cash settlement value of our open fuel hedge contracts at January 31, 2015 based on their contract settlement dates, assuming the same 20% and 40% changes.
 
(in millions)
 
Period from February 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015
Fuel Hedge Margin (Posted to) Received from Counterparties(3)
 
(Increase) Decrease to Unhedged
Fuel Cost(1)
Hedge
Gain (Loss)(2)
Net Impact
+ 40%
$