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Delta Passes United to Become No. 2 in U.S. After American

  • Merger with Continental has hurt United's focus, analyst says
  • Growth overseas has helped boost Delta's traffic figures
A Delta Air Lines Inc. Terminal Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg
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Delta Air Lines Inc. passed United Continental Holdings Inc. to become the second-largest airline in the U.S., topping its rival for the first time since a series of mergers transformed the industry landscape.

Delta now sits behind only American Airlines Group Inc. as the country’s biggest carrier by traffic, a common gauge of carrier size, according to the airlines. Some of Delta’s gain may be chalked up to challenges United in its merger with Continental Airlines, said Adam Hackel, an associate analyst at Sterne Agee CRT.