Q2 traffic data for US airlines analysed; demand growth modest as load factors continue to rise

With new destinations, including Fukuoka in Japan and New York JFK, launched since last April, Hawaiian Airlines is one of the fastest growing airlines in the second quarter of 2012.

All of the leading US airlines have now reported their traffic figures for the second quarter of 2012. While the four remaining US legacy carriers continue to report modest growth (only United grew system RPMs in every second quarter month), some of America’s larger niche carriers continue to report significant growth.

Allegiant Air, Hawaiian Airlines and Spirit Airlines all reported RPM growth of more than 15% in the three month period between April and June. The only carriers to report RPM declines in April, May and June were Frontier and Southwest, with American almost joining them, saved by a 0.2% RPM growth in May.

US airlines in 2009-2012 Year-on-year change in system Revenue Passenger Miles

Source: Airline websites NB: Continental and United figures merged under United since September 2010. AirTran and Southwest merged under Southwest since May 2011.

Load factors still rising; 10 airlines beat 85% mark in June

In June 10 of the 13 airlines for which data has been collected reported higher load factors than a year ago, while the remaining three (Allegiant Air, Spirit Airlines and US Airways) were all down less than one percentage point. Alaska Airlines saw a 2.5 percentage point load factor improvement (to 87.9%) in June while JetBlue saw a massive 3.8 percentage point improvement last month, to 85.8%. A total of 10 airlines had load factors of above 85% in June, with only Southwest (84.4%), American Eagle (80.1%) and Horizon Air (79.0%) falling below that level.

US airlines in 2009-2012 Monthly systemwide load factors

Source: Airline websites NB: Continental and United figures merged under United since September 2010. AirTran and Southwest merged under Southwest since May 2011.

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To keep up to date with all the latest new route developments of US airlines please check our regularly updated, free, downloadable spreadsheet.

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