17 of US top 20 airports growing in 2010; domestic air travel still down 8% vs 2007; load factors up on 2009

Featured launches: Delta’s Seattle to Osaka Kansai and Beijing (an anna.aero Route of the Week in June), Virgin America’s arrival last month in DFW from LAX and SFO, American Airlines’ JFK to Rio & Miami to Brasilia (also a Route of the Week in November), Allegiant’s anna.aero ‘Cake of the Week’ in November, and Charlotte’s anna.aero US ANNIE Prize 2010 “Fastest-Growing Airport Over 10 Million Passenger Category” awarded in October.

This has been a good year for US airlines despite the still gloomy economic environment in the country as a whole. Profits have returned in a big way thanks to stable fuel prices, capacity growth restraint, consolidation and the growth in ancillary revenues. Analysis of the latest traffic data published by the leading airports on their websites reveals that 17 of the top 20 airports (based on 2009 performance) are reporting overall growth in the first 10 (or in some cases nine) months of 2010. Charlotte (+9.3%) and Boston (+7.3%) lead the way with only one other airport (San Francisco) achieving year-on-year growth of at least 5%.

Source: Airport websites (airports ranked on number of passengers handled in 2009) * Data for Jan-Sep 2010 v Jan-Sep 2009

Source: Airport websites (airports ranked on number of passengers handled in 2009) * Data for Jan-Sep 2010 v Jan-Sep 2009

Las Vegas suffers from US Airways service reduction

Three airports are performing below the levels they achieved in 2009 with Las Vegas (-1.9%) suffering the most, followed by Newark (-0.6%) and Philadelphia (-0.5%). Las Vegas McCarran International Airport has seen its leading airline, Southwest, grow its passenger throughput by 0.7%, but US Airways has cut its presence at the airport considerably and its passenger numbers have fallen by over 50% (representing over two million passengers) in the period January to October. At the same time Alaska Airlines (+17%), Frontier (+39%), Spirit Airlines (+47%) and Sun Country (+24%) have all attempted to take up some of the slack.

US domestic market sees fastest growth in three years

According to US government data (from the Bureau of Transport Statistics) domestic air traffic grew by 4.3% in September, the highest monthly growth in passenger numbers since February 2008 (which should be ignored as it contained an extra day), and before that September 2007.

Source: BTS

Source: BTS

However, September’s figure of 50.3 million domestic passengers is still almost 4% down on September 2007. In fact, for the first three-quarters of 2010 passenger numbers are still 8.1% down on the first three-quarters of 2007, which remains the busiest year to date for domestic air travel.

All major US carriers now growing by at least 3%

The latest data from the leading US carriers shows that for the last two months (October and November) all of the major carriers have reported traffic growth (measured by system RPMs – Revenue Passenger Miles) of at least 3%. Allegiant’s impressive summer growth of over 20% has fallen to more modest levels as we move into the less leisure-oriented winter season

Source: Airline websites - NB: Continental and United combined under United name since September 2010

Source: Airline websites - NB: Continental and United combined under United name since September 2010

Load factors fall back once more in November

After climbing in October, load factors fell back once more in November. Compared with last November nine of the 11 airlines analysed reported higher load factors, with Delta only down 0.1 percentage point. Allegiant, which still had the highest reported load factor of 86.4% was nevertheless down four whole percentage points compared with November 2009.

Source: Airline websites - NB: Continental and United combined under United name since September 2010

Source: Airline websites - NB: Continental and United combined under United name since September 2010

US airline new route database

The biggest improvements in November were reported by Alaska Airlines (up 4.1 points to 83.9%), AirTran (up 3.9 points to 80.6%), Southwest (up 3.6 points to 80.1%), jetBlue (up 3.5 points to 80.9%) and US Airways (up 3.3 points to 80.2%).

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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