The airline posted $946m net income for the quarter to the end of March, up from $746m in the same period a year ago, helped by lower fuel costs Delta reported a pre-tax income of $1.4bn.
On an adjusted basis, the company reported earnings of $1.32 per diluted share, or £1.03bn.
That compares to analyst expectations of earnings of near $1bn, or $1.30 per diluted share, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.
Delta's operating revenue for the quarter fell 1.5 per cent, or $137m, to $9.25bn, driven by $125m "in foreign currency pressures and a $5m impact from the recent events in Brussels".
Passenger unit revenues declined 4.6 percent. Delta is under pressure, stating that unit passenger revenue would fall be between 2.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent in the second quarter.
"We have started 2016 with tremendous momentum, generating over $1.5bn in adjusted pre-tax income, delivering industry-leading operations including 49 days of perfect mainline completion factor for our customers, and reaching our goal of becoming an investment grade company. With these results, the Delta people have proven again that they are the very best in the industry," said Ed Bastian, Delta's incoming chief executive officer.
"We will continue to be disciplined with our business in the face of volatile fuel prices, strengthen our foundation, and prove our position as the airline that consistently delivers top results for our employees, our owners and the customers and communities we serve."
In February Delta announced its chief executive Richard Anderson will retire in May, after having run the company since 2007.