Oct. 10 (UPI) -- As some of its competitors deal with fallout from Boeing's stalled 737 Max fleet, Delta Air Lines on Thursday reported record revenues for the third quarter -- $12.6 billion -- and plans to hire 12,000 more workers in the coming months.
In its earnings report, the world's second-largest carrier said it earned $2.32 per diluted share from July through September, a 29 percent increase over the last 12 months. Delta said it served more than 55 million passengers over the three-month period.
Delta said lower fuel costs helped reduce the cost per available seat mile by 2.1 percent over Q3 2018.
Also Thursday, the airline said it plans to hire 12,000 employees over the next several months.
"We're hiring pilots, we're hiring flight attendants, we're hiring ground staff. We're hiring in all categories of the company," Delta CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC. "We're the process of hiring 6,000 people this year and at least a like amount next year."
Bastion said Boeing's troubled 737 Max fleet has moved some flyers to Delta. The Atlanta-based airline does not fly any version of the 737 Max, while competitors American, Southwest and United have all reported financial difficulties with the model -- which was grounded worldwide in March for a problem in its automated flight system that downed two planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Bastion said he expects the fourth quarter to bring more than $4 billion in free cash flow, and a fifth straight year of pre-tax earnings exceeding $5 billion.
Delta also announced Thursday it has opened a new, technologically sophisticated export facility it will share with Virgin Atlantic Cargo at London's Heathrow Airport. It's part of the first phase of a joint expansion program to double cargo capacity at the airport.
Delta is the world's second-largest airline by passenger traffic and fleet size.