Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines report double-digit RPM growth in September; Delta grows 14% in Latin America

Although United launched a new route between Oklahoma City and San Francisco at the end of August, the airline’s overall traffic was down in September, with domestic RPMs falling by 2.5%.

Although United launched a new route between Oklahoma City and San Francisco at the end of August, the airline’s overall traffic was down in September, with domestic RPMs falling by 2.5%.

The latest traffic figures (for September) from the leading US carriers shows that while three of the ‘big 4’ reported a fall in demand (as measured by RPMs – Revenue Passenger Miles) of between 1% and 2% (the exception being American Airlines), the country’s low-cost and niche carriers continue to report growth ranging from modest (+2.3% for Frontier) to impressive (+19.4% for Hawaiian Airlines).

US airlines in 2009-2011 Year-on-year change in system Revenue Passenger Miles

Source: Airline websites NB: Continental and United figures merged under United since September 2010

Among the four remaining ‘global’ US carriers, there were mixed results for September when demand data (RPMs) was broken down by region.

American Delta United US Airways
Total network +1.9% -0.9% -1.7% -0.9%
Domestic +1.7% +0.5% -2.5% -1.6%
International +2.2% -2.8% -1.3%
Atlantic +0.5% -7.6% -2.1% +3.1%
Pacific +5.7% +0.8% -3.6%
Latin America +3.0% +13.7% +8.5% -7.9%
Source: Airline press releases (RPM change September 2011 v September 2010)

US Airways led the way on Atlantic growth (+3.1%), American on Pacific growth (+5.7%) and Delta on Latin American growth (+13.7%).

Eight out of 12 airlines report higher load factors in September

Eight of the 12 airlines for which data has been collected (we also have load factor data for Frontier and Horizon Air) reported improved load factors in September compared with September 2010. Those with lower load factors compared with last year are Allegiant (although their figure of 86.0% was better than all other carriers except Frontier), jetBlue (down 0.8 percentage points to 79.8%), United (down 0.5 points to 83.3%) and Hawaiian (down 1.5 points to 84.2%). However, proving that some things are predictable in the air transport industry, all 12 carriers had lower load factors in September than they had in August.

US airlines in 2009-2011 Monthly systemwide load factors

Source: Airline websites NB: Continental and United figures merged under United since September 2010

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