Delta Air Lines Inc , the world's biggest carrier, reported a quarterly loss on Wednesday and said it was not planning for any meaningful rebound this year as the recession hurts air travel.

Delta, which became the leading airline when it acquired Northwest in October, said its second-quarter loss was $257 million, or 31 cents a share.

Excluding merger expenses of $58 million, Delta said it lost $199 million, or 24 cents per share. Analysts polled by Reuters estimated a loss of 29 cents, excluding merger costs.

The airline industry is straining to cut capacity to adjust to lower demand. Delta has announced plans to cut international capacity by 15 percent starting in September.

Delta has said it might need to cut more jobs. In May it offered pilots a voluntary separation package in hopes of reducing expenses. But only 215 of the 9,400 pilots eligible for the package signed up, the union that represents them said last week.

Operating revenue was $7 billion, while operating expenses were $6.9 billion, including $1.8 billion for fuel and related taxes.

Delta ended the quarter with $5.4 billion in unrestricted liquidity.

The industry faces substantial challenges from unprecedented revenue declines and volatile fuel prices, said Richard Anderson, Delta's chief executive.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs and John Crawley; Editing by John Wallace and Brian Moss)