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Photo: Nicolas Economou via Getty Images

Delta Air Lines’ biggest concern for the fourth quarter isn’t “the variant” — as CEO Ed Bastian refers to it — it’s fuel costs.

The big picture: Warnings like Delta's are a natural result of the global fuel chaos.

Driving the news: Delta reported earnings Wednesday, booking its first quarterly profit (without federal aid) since the start of the pandemic.

  • The company has a number of tailwinds. For one, bookings have increased — including for business travel — since COVID cases started receding last month.
  • Overall revenue is expected to hit 75% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, from just 25% at the start (and that’s without most international travel).

But, but, but: Just how much the cost of jet fuel rises, and how long it stays there, will determine whether the airline turns a profit in Q4, Bastian told CNBC.

  • Fuel is Delta’s second-largest individual cost, after labor. “It's up 60% this year, and almost 20% just in the last month or so,” he said.

The bottom line: Higher energy costs are likely to show up as risk factors in more companies' Q3 earnings comments.

Go deeper: Southwest, American Airlines to require workers to be vaccinated despite Texas ban

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Economy & Business

Netflix beats subscriber estimates following success of "Squid Game"

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix on Thursday said it added 4.4 million subscribers globally last quarter, which not only beat Wall Street expectations, but also marked the first time that the company reported positive subscriber gains in the past six months.

Why it matters: The tech giant credits a more normalized content release schedule last quarter for the gains. It blamed subscriber slowdowns during the past two quarters on COVID-related production delays.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to Parkland school shooting

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the defense table during jury selection at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday pleaded guilty on all counts for carrying out the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, including 14 students and three staff members.

Driving the news: Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty at a hearing on Wednesday to 17 murder counts and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for carrying out the deadly shooting.

2 hours ago - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.