April 2, 2019 / 2:34 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Delta Air Lines expects first-quarter profit above Wall Street estimates

(Adds details about Boeing groundings, Southwest's forecast)

April 2 (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc shares rose 5 percent on Tuesday after the No.2 U.S. airline's first-quarter profit estimates came in above Wall Street forecast on the back of strong business travel demand.

The news boosted shares of rivals, with United Airlines , American Airlines and Southwest Airlines Co all up between 1 and 3 percent in early trading.

Delta's announcement comes at a time when warnings of potential impact of the grounding of Boeing 737 Max jets, a U.S. government shutdown and more-than-expected outages had left investors anxious about first-quarter profits in the sector.

Last month, Southwest Airlines cut its financial outlook for the year after being forced to pull its new fleet of 34 Boeing 737 MAX planes out of service.

On Tuesday, Atlanta-based Delta said it expects first-quarter profit between $0.85 per share and $0.95 per share, above analysts' estimates of $0.80 per share.

Delta said it expects its system capacity to be up 5 percent in the March quarter.

The airline said it now expects operating revenue for the first-quarter to rise about 7 percent, compared with the 4 percent to 6 percent it forecast earlier. (Reporting by Rachit Vats and Sweta Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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