US airlines report faster growth in September; American, Delta, United and US Airways all growing by more than 5%

Alaska’s traffic (revenue passenger miles) were up over 12% in September, helped in part by the the launch of Portland-Honolulu and Seattle-St Louis (a new destination for the airline). Passengers at the gate for the inaugural flight from Seattle to St Louis were treated to jazz and blues music.  See report 

September data from the leading US carriers shows that all of them (except Southwest) reported traffic (measured by system RPMs – Revenue Passenger Miles) growing faster than it was in August. Of particular note was the fact that all four of the remaining legacy carriers (American, Delta, United, US Airways) all reported RPM growth above 5%. In fact, the only carrier not growing by at least 5% was AirTran which reported modest growth of 1.7% for the second successive month.

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

Source: Airline websites

Allegiant Air continues to lead the way with growth for the third successive month of over 20%, followed by jetBlue which reported almost 15% year-on-year growth in September. Alaska Airlines managed a fifth straight month of double-digit growth

Load factors fall once more in September

Monthly load factors as reported by 12 US airlines have been plotted for the last 21 months to show how different airlines compare and what impact seasonality has on the airlines’ ability to fill their aircraft.

US airlines in 2009-2010 Monthly systemwide load factors

Source: Airline websites

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In September, 11 of the 12 airlines reported load factors falling compared with August, the notable exception being Hawaiian Airlines. Nine of the 12 airlines still reported systemwide (or consolidated) load factors in excess of 80%, with AirTran and Southwest joining American Eagle with load factors of less than 80%.

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