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Delta Air Lines Inc said on Thursday it expects to post an annual profit in 2022, as strong domestic holiday bookings helped power its fourth quarter earnings despite fears around the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The U.S. airline, however, said Omicron had slowed international bookings as many countries imposed new travel restrictions since the strain was first reported.

“Omicron not going to impact our holiday bookings,” the airline’s chief executive officer, Ed Bastian, said in an interview to CNBC, but added that it will have some impact in the first quarter.

Rising COVID-19 cases as well as the newly imposed restrictions have threatened to upend a nascent recovery in the industry.

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

Shares of the Atlanta-based carrier rose 2.40 per cent in the pre-market trading as the company also said it expects to generate an adjusted pre-tax profit of $200-million in the December quarter.

The carrier in October had flagged a pre-tax loss for the fourth quarter due to rising fuel costs. It now expects fuel costs per gallon between $2.20 and $2.30 down from $2.25 to $2.40 forecast earlier.

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