US airlines all growing and flying fewer empty seats; Alaska Airlines takes Allegiant’s load factor crown in July

Virgin America announces it will launch daily flights to DFW from Los Angeles

Dallas, August 10, National Business Travel Association Convention: Virgin America announces it will launch daily flights to DFW from Los Angeles on December 1 and from San Francisco on December 6. At the same time Sir Richard Branson told the NBTA Convention that Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America and V Australia/Virgin Blue are uniting their loyalty programmes so members can earn miles or points when taking flights on the sister-branded airlines.

US carriers continue to have a good summer. In May, June and July all of the carriers tracked by reported growth in demand (as measured by system RPMs – Revenue Passenger Miles). Since its acquisition by Republic, Frontier Airlines is reporting double-digit growth in each of the last five months, something not even Allegiant Air can claim.

Chart: US airlines in 2009-2010 - Year-on-year change in system Revenue Passenger Miles

Source: Airline websites

All five of America’s legacy carriers (American, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways) reported RPM growth in July of between 0.5% and 3.0%. Southwest was only marginally ahead with growth of 3.4%

Load factors still climbing

Monthly load factors as reported by 12 US airlines have been plotted for the last 19 months to show how different airlines compare and what impact seasonality has on the airlines’ ability to fill their aircraft.

Chart: US airlines - Monthly systemwide load factors in 2009-2010

Source: Airline websites

In June all airlines (except American Eagle) reported year-on-year improvement in load factors, with Alaska Airlines and JetBlue both gaining almost four percentage points. For July American Airlines and US Airways also saw load factors fall, but by less than one percentage point.

US airlines new route spreadsheetFor the second year running Allegiant Air (which normally reports the highest load factor among these airlines) was beaten in July by Alaska Airlines. Apart from American Eagle Airlines all other carriers reported load factors in July of between 85% and 89%.

US airline new route database

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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