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