Delta Air forecasts improved second quarter profit
* Carrier says revenue stabilizing after April weakness
* Airline shares up as oil falls
May 15 (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc on Wednesday said it expects improved profit in the second quarter, aided by lower fuel prices.
Stable revenues and declining fuel prices "should couple to make for some very nice margin expansion in the quarter," Delta President Edward Bastian told a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference that was broadcast over the Internet.
He said unit revenue, an important measure also known as passenger revenue per available seat mile, was stabilizing in May after weakening in April. For May, he said that metric was expected to be flat or to improve modestly.
"Our summer bookings look solid," Bastian told the conference. "While corporate demand across the industry appears to be flat in terms of overall corporate spend, our corporate revenues this year to date are up 4 percent as we continue to grow share."
Declining oil prices can help airlines, whose biggest costs are fuel and labor. On Wednesday, U.S. oil was down 1.7 percent to $92.57 a barrel, declining for a fifth straight day .
Shares of Delta were up 5.8 percent to $19.31 on Wednesday as other airline stocks rose. Industry leader United Continental Holdings Inc was up 4.7 percent to $34.85, US Airways Group Inc gained 3.6 percent to $18.75 and Southwest Airlines Co was up 1.9 percent to $14.24.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)
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