A sharp rise in fourth-quarter maintenance costs didn’t keep Delta Air Lines from reducing full year-over-year maintenance expenses, despite growing its fleet—a notable achievement for a carrier that minimizes new aircraft expenditures in favor of squeezing the most out of its older airframes. Delta’s fourth-quarter maintenance expenses grew 18% to $415 million, a jump that executives tie to a higher percentage of scheduled airframe heavy checks in an otherwise routine quarter. The ...

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