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Old March 6th, 2009, 07:44 PM   #81
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TABLE-U.S. airlines February traffic data

March 5 (Reuters) - The following table lists February mainline operational data for the nine largest U.S. airlines by passenger traffic, compared with the same month a year earlier:

Code:
          ----Traffic----    ---Capacity---    --Load factor--
           RPMs   pct chg     ASMs  pct chg     pct     Change
Delta*       12.83     -11.0    17.26     -7.8    74.3   -2.7 pts
American      8.63     -13.5    11.67    -10.1    73.9   -2.9 pts
United        6.75     -17.2     9.22    -15.9    73.3   -1.1 pts
Continental   5.24     -13.1     7.19     -9.4    72.9   -3.1 pts
Southwest     5.10      -6.0     7.39     -6.5    69.1   +0.5 pts
US Airways    4.04      -9.3     5.24     -9.3    77.2    0.0 pts
JetBlue       1.86      -8.3     2.50     -5.5    74.5   -2.3 pts
Alaska**      1.27     -10.2     1.73    -10.5    73.5   +0.2 pts
AirTran       1.23     -13.6     1.66     -9.1    74.2   -3.9 pts
NOTES: Traffic is measured in billions of revenue passenger miles, the distance traveled by paying passengers.

Capacity is measured in billions of available seat miles, reflecting the number of seats available for sale and the length of the flights.

Load factor is the percentage of seats occupied by paying passengers and change is in percentage points.

*Figures for Delta include data for regional affiliates.

**Alaska Airlines doesn't include unit Horizon Air.

All data is from the airlines.
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Old March 7th, 2009, 06:12 PM   #82
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U.S. airlines pin hopes on summer vacation travel

CHICAGO, March 6 (Reuters) - As business travel bookings plummet in the economic recession, U.S. airlines are looking hungrily at the summer vacation travel season for a bump in their leisure bookings.

That may be wishful thinking, however.

Carriers must fight the uphill battle of persuading people to fork over cash for vacations at a time when job losses mount and personal investments like homes and retirement plans shed value.

"Everybody is wondering if there's another shoe to drop," said Rick Seaney, chief executive of air fare research site Farecompare.com.

Seaney said that while there is no reliable way to gauge forward airline bookings, evidence suggests a gloomy outlook for leisure travel this year.

Travelers are booking trips closer to their departures, which indicates more shopping and less buying, he said.

Furthermore, airlines now offer deeply discounted tickets in hopes of luring thrifty passengers. The sales, which last much longer this year than last year, typically shave 25 percent to 50 percent off the high fares of last summer, Seaney said.

"These are not prices that we're going to see outside of a recession," Seaney said.

Discretionary travel spending is highly dependent on an economy that consumers can trust. And the U.S. economy offers very little good news these days.

The Labor Department on Friday said nonfarm payrolls shed 651,000 jobs in February, while the jobless rate climbed to 8.1 percent. Since the recession started in December 2007, the economy has shed 4.4 million jobs. More than half of those jobs were eliminated in the last four months.

Despite massive downsizing last year and in 2009, airlines still struggle to keep planes full and fares supported.

Monthly reports on airline operations released this week showed sharp declines in traffic as carriers slashed capacity. Most troubling for the airlines, however, was the shrinking load factors, which measure how full a plane is.

American Airlines , for example, said its load factor was 73.9 percent, down 2.9 percentage points from February 2008. Continental Airlines reported a load factor of 72.9 percent, a decline of 3.1 percentage points from a year ago.

Airline leaders link the shrinking load factors to a slowdown in business travel after politicians demonized lavish corporate trips in recent months.

Airline leaders like Doug Parker, chief executive at US Airways , hold out hope that leisure travel will not take the same hit.

"What we see ... right now is that the softness is mostly in business, as opposed to leisure," Parker told Reuters on Tuesday. "You stimulate leisure somewhat with lower fares."
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Old March 14th, 2009, 05:21 PM   #83
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ANALYSIS-U.S. airlines show resilience, luck in dark times
11 March 2009

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The airline industry, long the problem child of corporate America, finds itself in a precarious sweet spot these days.

While the economic recession is sinking industries with better track records, U.S. airlines are at least managing to tread water.

It's a welcome irony for carriers whose enormous and concerted downsizing in response to record high fuel prices last year ended up helping them cope with plummeting ticket sales later.

"That was only serendipity that the capacity cuts came at the same time that traffic started to drop," said independent consultant Michael Boyd. "They didn't see the demand drop any more than anybody else. They were just planning on flying fewer airplanes and fewer seats because of oil prices."

Major carriers like Delta Air Lines, AMR Corp's American Airlines and UAL Corp's United Airlines slashed capacity last year to offset fuel bills that raced to record highs in July alongside crude oil. When oil prices dropped 75 percent in the second half of 2008, airlines reaped the big benefits.

But without the shock of costly fuel -- often the biggest expense for airlines -- the companies might not have undertaken the downsizing that would be their salvation a few months later, when the recession laid waste to industries across the business spectrum.

Last July, a week after crude oil hit a record high, the Amex airline index notched what was then an all-time low. Since then, the index has gained 8 percent, compared with a 40 percent decline for the broad S&P 500.

"The airline industry is better postured to get through this mess than a lot of other industries are," Boyd said. "(Airlines) look a little luckier."

RELATIVE STRENGTH

Although travel demand is down and forecasts are bleak, once-struggling airlines are where some hard-hit industries hope to be after restructuring.

In the U.S. retail industry, for example, top companies have closed stores, curbed openings and cut jobs by the thousands. The crisis has claimed Linens 'n Things, which eventually liquidated after filing for Chapter 11 last year, and Circuit City Stores, whose remaining stores closed for good this month.

The technology sector also has been clobbered by weak demand during the global financial crisis. As businesses cut back on IT purchases and consumer spending dried up, companies like Microsoft and hard disk drive maker Seagate have unveiled downsizing efforts.

Meanwhile, automakers General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC, once mainstays of the U.S. economy, are vying for bailouts and struggling to survive.

Major airlines insist they have no intention of asking for similar assistance. But they have received it before. After the hijack attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, the U.S. government approved $15 billion in direct aid and loan guarantees mainly to help carriers recover.

U.S. carriers even look good within the global airline industry. A rebound in the U.S. dollar in the second half of 2008 gave them a fuel-price advantage over foreign rivals whose local currencies declined, thereby boosting energy costs.

SHAKY GROUND

Stability is not the norm for U.S. airlines, which in the last decade has weathered a low-cost revolution, 9/11, terror concerns, and passenger fears of SARS and bird flu. This painful era also saw multiple bankruptcies and the purchases of Trans World Airlines, Northwest Airlines and the former US Airways by rivals.

"The industry is so dynamic it could change on a dime," said Morningstar analyst Basili Alukos, citing the weak outlook for travel demand that still faces the business.

Airlines are constantly trying match capacity with demand, but recent data show they may not be acting quickly enough.

Monthly reports on airline operations released last week showed sharp declines in traffic as carriers slashed capacity. More troubling, however, were the shrinking load factors, which measure how full a plane is.

On Tuesday, Delta responded once again to the crisis, announcing plans to cut international capacity by an additional 10 percent starting in September. Other airlines say they can downsize again if needed.

"Today, the airlines are under pressure because of the falling demand environment," Alukos said. He predicted airline stocks would not continue outperforming the overall market.

"Unless airlines incessantly slash fares -- they have already started -- I don't see a turnaround in demand any time soon," he said.

For now, airlines seem to be holding their own. Analysts even broadly expect them to post profits this year. But it's a strange time for the business, which doesn't usually stack up so well against other industries, said independent airline consultant Robert Mann.

"It may never occur again," he said. "Enjoy it while it lasts.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 07:26 PM   #84
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ANALYSIS-U.S. airlines may have reached limit on new fees

CHICAGO, March 17 (Reuters) - It's been a long time coming, but it seems U.S. airlines finally may have reached a limit on new fees they can charge for in-flight perks that used to be included in the ticket price.

After adding fees for things like bag checks, seat assignments, pillows and blankets, there simply aren't many more complimentary items and services airlines can pry loose from the base fare, experts say.

That's welcome news for travelers who find the avalanche of new fees tedious.

"If people knew that this was the extent to which this is going to go, that would make them feel better," said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition (BTC). "(But) they should also know that there's no reversing it."

Mitchell also noted that airlines are creative and that there may yet be some elements of the reservation or check-in process that they can still unbundle.

Major airlines, battered in recent years by high costs, low-fare competition and economic recession, have generated billions of dollars in new revenue from sales of items and services that previously had been free.

Last year, for example, airlines unveiled a particularly unpopular charge, for checking a single bag. Passengers balked, but now that fee is common among major U.S. carriers like AMR Corp's American Airlines and UAL Corp's United Airlines.

SCRAPING THE BOTTOM

When implementing the new fees, U.S. airlines took their cues from foreign carriers that use the so-called "a la carte" model that charges passengers for items and services that are not absolutely essential to travel.

Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe's largest budget carrier, last month rankled travelers when its chief executive said the airline might even charge passengers to use airplane toilets. A company spokesman later said the fee had been discussed internally but Ryanair has no immediate plans to introduce it.

Passengers in the United States also have pushed back. US Airways Group Inc recently rescinded a fee for sodas on its flights after customers complained and rivals declined to match.

In general, however, the fees have paid off well for U.S. carriers, which have reported big increases in the ancillary revenue they earn from sales of goods and services.

American Airlines, the second largest U.S. airline, saw its ancillary revenue increase 60 percent to $2.1 billion in 2008 from $1.3 billion in 2002.

"That's been a pretty big success story," AMR Chief Financial Officer Tom Horton told Reuters in an interview last week.

He said the company is always looking for new revenue streams, but he declined to say whether AMR was planning to unveil a new fee or service at this time.

FINDING NEW REVENUE

Experts generally agree that airlines are running out of ways to charge for items that customers currently take for granted. But that won't stop carriers from introducing new items and services to sell on flights, said Andrew Watterson, an airline consultant and at Oliver Wyman, a management consulting company.

"Unbundling was the trend, and that did create lots of value in the airlines. The future is in rebundling," said Watterson.

He noted the influx into coach cabins of superior-quality meals, day passes to airport lounges and the option to purchase frequent flyer miles. All these can be purchased on some airlines for additional fees.

BTC's Mitchell agreed. He said that airlines are beefing up their merchandising and soon will sell many more perks in cabins that previously did not have access to them.

"They're going to use the cabin for all manner of merchandising," Mitchell said.

"There's all kinds of opportunities," he said. "You have a captive audience."
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Old March 31st, 2009, 03:58 PM   #85
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FAA expects less air travel this year, with modest gains in 2010 and beyond
31 March 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration predicts that nearly 9 percent fewer passengers will board major U.S. airlines for domestic flights this year, and that traffic on international flights will also decline as the bleak economy curbs business travel and vacation plans.

The FAA's 2009 projections, released in a report Tuesday, match airlines' grim outlook. The major carriers have been cutting capacity in the face of a travel slowdown blamed on the recession. But the agency sees the downturn lasting only through 2009, and forecasts that growth will resume next year.

The FAA expects domestic boardings on major U.S. airlines to fall 8.8 percent, and 2.4 percent internationally in 2009. Including smaller regional carriers, enplanements on U.S. routes are expected to drop 7.8 percent this year -- a substantial decline compared with 2008's 1.5 percent year-over-year dip.

But the agency says that traffic will pick up again in 2010, with domestic boardings growing 2.3 percent a year to reach 690.2 million by 2025. International boardings on the big carriers and smaller regionals will grow 4.3 percent a year from 2010 through 2025.

The FAA forecast that total enplanements will hit 1.1 billion in 2025, up from 757.4 million last year.

The FAA based its forecasts on the assumption that the U.S. economy will grow 2.7 percent a year and worldwide economic growth will be 3 percent a year through 2025. The FAA assumed inflation will be modest, about 2 percent a year.

The FAA also expects that the general-aviation fleet will grow 1 percent a year, from 234,015 in 2008 to 275,230 aircraft in 2025. The agency, which runs the nation's air traffic control system, said it expects its workload to decrease 5.7 percent this year and then grow 1.5 percent a year through 2025.

Last year, U.S. passenger and cargo airlines reported operating losses of $2 billion, compared with an operating profit of $10.1 billion in 2007. Revenue rose 8.8 percent but costs grew 16.9 percent as fuel prices hit an all-time high in July before tumbling.

The number of passengers boarding U.S. flights, including regional carriers, dipped to 679.6 million from 690.1 million in 2007, though international boardings rose to 77.8 million from 75.3 million.

Revenue per mile flown by paying passengers, a key financial measurement, rose to all-time highs on major U.S. airlines, the FAA said. It climbed 5.2 percent on domestic flights and 7.4 percent on international flights after airlines pushed through several rounds of fare increases early in the year and added surcharges for fuel, luggage and amenities.
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Old April 1st, 2009, 05:45 PM   #86
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U.S. airline passenger traffic to drop 9 pct--FAA

WASHINGTON, March 31 (Reuters) - Passenger traffic aboard all airline flights in the United States will drop nearly 9 percent this year due to recession compared with 2008, when they carried 679 million people, the government said on Tuesday.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimate, if it proves accurate, would represent the largest decline in annual domestic capacity since the industry was deregulated in 1978.

Major airlines slashed capacity by more than 8 percent when demand plummeted in the year following the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

The FAA also said the number of passengers boarding international flights on U.S. carriers is expected to drop 2.4 percent.

American carriers have scaled back transatlantic routes due to a sharp drop in business travel. The global financial services meltdown has hurt travel between New York and London, industry officials have said.

Aircraft operations are forecast to fall 5.7 percent in 2009 as carriers cut service and flights by some larger aircraft due to falling demand.

Most flights, however, should remain full or nearly full, with load factors expected to hover around 80 percent, the FAA said.

The FAA also estimated domestic carriers would board 1 billion passengers for the first time in 2021, instead of the previous forecast of 2016.
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Old April 3rd, 2009, 06:32 PM   #87
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US Air traffic dips on Easter move, falling demand

CHICAGO, April 3 (Reuters) - US Airways Group said on Friday that its domestic mainline traffic fell 10.9 percent in March amid a shift in the Easter holiday and falling travel demand, resulting in a dip in passenger unit revenue.

The reduction in mainline traffic, which excludes flights operated by regional partners, came amid a 10.2 percent cut in domestic capacity from a year earlier.

The airline said its total mainline traffic - including international flights -- fell by 8.9 percent, and its total mainline capacity was down 6.1 percent.

As a result, planes remained relatively full, but less so than a year ago. The load factor was 81.9 percent, which was down 2.6 percentage points from March 2008.

"Our March traffic results reflect the Easter holiday shift from March in 2008 to April in 2009 as well as a reduction in travel that we, like the rest of the industry, experienced during the month," US Airways President Scott Kirby said in a statement.

"Both of these factors contributed to a decrease in consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile of approximately 17 to 19 percent versus the same period last year," Kirby said.

But new fees for on-board items and services offset some of the weakness, he said. US Airways' total revenue per available seat mile on a year-over-year basis fell between 13 percent and 15 percent.

The airline industry has been battered by economic weakness that has dampened travel demand. Airlines responded last year by cutting the number of seats for sale, and capacity reductions continued in 2009.

In a separate investor update filed with the government, US Airways said it expected its domestic mainline capacity to fall 8 percent to 10 percent in 2009, while total mainline capacity will be down 4 percent to 6 percent.

US Airways said it had hedged 18 percent of its anticipated fuel consumption for 2009. The carrier has said it stopped buying hedges in August to save money and benefit from cheaper jet fuel.

The price of fuel fell in the second half of 2008 when the price of crude oil declined 75 percent from a record high reached in July.

Shares of US Airways were down 4 cents, or 1.4 percent, at $2.79 on the New York Stock Exchange.
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Old April 9th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #88
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US airports face further challenges in '09-Fitch

NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - After a difficult 2008, U.S. airports are facing continued challenges in 2009 as the global recession and adverse conditions in credit markets weigh, Fitch Ratings said on Monday.

"As the economic downturn takes its course, Fitch sees further weakening and declines in airport traffic as likely to continue this year," the agency said in a report.

Airports most at risk in the near-term include secondary hubs, reliever airports and those which serve the leisure industry in a significant way, it said.

However, given the widespread acceleration of traffic declines "most airports, and even airports with historically solid origination-destination (O&D) traffic bases, will not be immune to the financial strains in this environment," said the report.

With soaring U.S. job losses taking a toll on both business and leisure air travel, air traffic is expected to fall sharply and affect airport's cash flow.

"Even with fuel prices falling dramatically from their summer 2008 peak, both business and leisure air travel still remain under significant pressure, with job losses taking center stage," it said.

Fitch is expecting the unemployment rate to reach 9.3 percent by the fourth quarter.

Airports will feel even more pressure as high costs for short-term funding due to tumultuous credit markets have continued to increase.

"Credit concerns may develop at airports with increasing debt burdens or those that remain committed to large-scale capital programs, resulting in higher projected cost profiles," said the agency.

Still, Fitch is expecting rating downgrades "to be mostly limited to one-to-two notches, as default risk in this sector is still viewed to be remote."

Moody's Investor Services made a similar forecast for U.S. airports last week, also citing the recession and its impact on travel demand.

Moody's said negative industry trends for U.S. airports will last between 12 to 18 months but should improve after that.

"While negative industry trends drive the short-term outlook, stability can be found in the long-term trends such as the industry's financial structure," said credit analyst Kurta Commencer.

"Mitigating the impact of negative trends is the strong overall credit-worthiness of the 91 U.S. airports that have Moody's underlying ratings," he said.
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Old April 10th, 2009, 03:58 PM   #89
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TABLE-U.S. airlines March traffic data

CHICAGO, April 7 (Reuters) - The following table lists March mainline operational data for the nine largest U.S. airlines by passenger traffic, compared with the same month a year earlier:


Code:
          ----Traffic----    ---Capacity---    --Load factor--
           RPMs   pct chg     ASMs  pct chg     pct     Change
Delta*       15.60     -12.6    19.39     -7.9    80.5   -4.4 pts
American     10.32     -10.9    13.04     -5.6    79.2   -4.8 pts
United        8.47     -15.6    10.72    -11.7    79.1   -3.6 pts
Continental   6.67     -10.0     8.35     -7.0    79.9   -2.7 pts
Southwest     6.65      -0.4     8.61     -1.5    77.3   +0.8 pts
US Airways    4.91      -8.9     6.00     -6.1    81.9   -2.6 pts
JetBlue       2.25      -8.5     2.83     -5.6    79.3   -2.5 pts
AirTran       1.59      -7.2     1.97     -8.4    80.7   +1.1 pts
Alaska**      1.56      -8.1     1.91     -9.0    81.6   +0.8 pts
NOTES: Traffic is measured in billions of revenue passenger miles, the distance traveled by paying passengers.

Capacity is measured in billions of available seat miles, reflecting the number of seats available for sale and the length of the flights.

Load factor is the percentage of seats occupied by paying passengers and change is in percentage points.

*Figures for Delta include data for regional affiliates.

**Alaska Airlines does not include unit Horizon Air.

All data are from the airlines.
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Old April 13th, 2009, 04:33 PM   #90
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Airfares Are So Low, It's Cheaper To Bring Friend Than 2 Bags
13 April 2009
Dow Jones News Service

If there's a silver lining to the economic woes that have stopped most consumer spending in its tracks, it's this: Spring and summer airfares are amazingly cheap.

Indeed, fares are so cut-rate right now that it could cost more to fly two bags from Chicago to Minneapolis than to transport one person.

A flight during traditional work hours between those two cities was available on American Airlines last week for $88 round-trip. Bring two bags along and you'll pay an extra $100 round-trip.

At $88, that fare calculates roughly to a dirt-cheap 3.3 cents per air mile between Chicago O'Hare and Minneapolis-St. Paul International. Driving - on land miles, of which there are more - would cost about 10 cents a mile if gasoline averaged about $2 a gallon.

"These are really wild and crazy prices," said Tom Parsons, chief executive of Bestfares.com, a discount travel site. "When you think that airfares can't get any cheaper, even for no-advance-purchase fares, they do."

Earlier this month, JetBlue offered a one-day-only sale on flights to New York from San Francisco or Los Angeles for a jaw-dropping $14 one way, before taxes. That's far less than cab fare from JFK airport into Manhattan.

A last-minute trip to New York from the West Coast for what amounted to a $49 round-trip price including taxes was unheard of only a few months ago, much less a couple of years ago.

"The deals that we're seeing are pretty incredible right now," said Joel Grus, a "fareologist" with Live Search Farecast, a travel search site. "Some of them that I see make me want to say I'm going on vacation next week."

Cheap Fares, But Empty Wallets

Unfortunately, a growing number of consumers don't have that option. About 5.1 million jobs have been lost since the start of the recession and last month alone some 663,000 people found themselves jobless as the unemployment rate soared to 8.5%. The bottom line, for the airlines: Not enough people are flying for business or pleasure.

The Air Transport Association, an industry trade group, said revenues from passenger flights are on a path of sharp decline. In February, the latest numbers available, passenger revenues dropped 19% compared with the same period a year ago. That was the fourth straight month the industry saw a year-over-year drop.

Domestic and international airfares have been decreasing for many months, but the bargain-basement prices available for travel in late April, May and even into summer - when prices usually are at their highest - are a sure sign of desperation for air carriers.

Fare Cuts For U.S., Abroad

"The airlines are pushing people to travel now and the only way they can get a customer to travel is if [the customer] sees excellent deals," said Altan Arsan, owner of Artun Travel in Chicago.

Airfares are down an average of 9% from this time last year on domestic flights and 19% for international flights, according to the travel site Farecast. But the discounts go even deeper on selected flights.

A flight from San Francisco to Miami anytime from April 22 to April 29 was available last week for $155, according to Farecast. A year ago, that would have cost 45% more at $283.

Overall, flights to Miami are lower by 28% since this time last year; fares to Las Vegas have fallen 12% year over year.

"The problem the airlines are having right now is that everyone is booking closer to the date of departure," Parsons said. People "are afraid they won't have a job to pay for a trip and they're being very cautious about booking things too far out."

Cheaper To Rebook

It used to be that a trip to Europe, for example, would be considerably less if the flights were booked well in advance of the trip, preferably five to six months ahead.

Not anymore. If you bought a trip from Boston to Zurich on Jan. 5, for travel in June, July or August, it would have cost $1,297, according to Parsons. That same ticket purchased on April 7 could be had for $572.

Consumers holding the costlier tickets, Parsons said, should consider rebooking the same flight, eating the $250 change fee and getting a travel voucher ranging from $375 to $473 a ticket, depending on the flights and exact dates. "That's like putting money back in the bank," he says.

What about fall and early winter travel? Should consumers jump on these cheap fares now? "It's certainly possible the deals will get better, but if the economy stays weak the carriers will go ahead and cut capacity and the fares will start moving in the other direction," Farecast's Grus said.

But Parsons doesn't see it that way. "Don't touch fares for November and beyond," he said, adding that it's unlikely capacity cuts could happen that quickly. "I don't see where this economic climate is going to turn around that fast, and those seats need to be sold."
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Old April 17th, 2009, 06:25 AM   #91
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WSJ: U.S. Airlines' March Rev Fell 23% YOY
16 April 2009
Copyright (c) 2009, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

The main trade group representing U.S. airlines said Thursday that passenger revenue fell 23% in March from the same month in 2008, the fifth consecutive month in which passenger revenue declined from the prior year. The Air Transport Association said March traffic, measured by the number of passengers flown, slipped 10% and the price a passenger paid to fly a mile declined by 13%.

The ATA, whose airline members carry more than 90% of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic, normally releases monthly revenue figures to research analysts but now has begun disseminating the information to the public. The March numbers reflect a recession-driven drop in passenger demand, industry capacity reductions and fare-cutting by airlines desperate to attract business.

The trade group said U.S. airlines' cargo traffic, measured by revenue-ton miles, plunged 21% in February compared with the year-ago month, the seventh consecutive monthly decline. Cargo traffic to and from Latin America declined by 27%. March 2009 data isn't yet available.

'We are seeing first-quarter 2009 earnings for the U.S. airline industry that reflect the adverse conditions impacting the broader economy,' said James May, president of the ATA.

'While the industry faces demand uncertainty as we head into the summer, we certainly would like to believe that we have seen the low point.' So far in the reporting season, American Airlines parent AMR Corp. (AMR) and Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) have reported losses. Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), United Airlines parent UAL Corp. (UAUA), Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL), US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) and JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) are slated to report their results next week.

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal Web site, WSJ.com.)

Analysts are expecting more losses for most of the large carriers in the first quarter. Some are revising their 2009 profitability forecasts given the steep decline in industry revenue. Bank of AmericaMerrill Lynch analyst Michael Linenberg earlier this week boosted his first-quarter industry loss estimate to $2.4 billion from an earlier loss forecast of $1.7 billion. He also lowered his full-year industry profit forecast to $1 billion from $2 billion. Barclays Capital airline analyst Gary Chase this week reduced his estimates for the second quarter and beyond, citing disappointing March revenues and rising fuel prices. If revenue continues to sag, he predicted that airline capacity cuts will accelerate.

Last summer, a rapid run-up in oil prices prompted the U.S. airlines to shed some capacity, reduce flights and ground older airline. The cutting continued into 2009. It is estimated the U.S. industry reduced its domestic seat capacity by nearly 11% in the first quarter. Oil prices are down more than 50% from a year ago, but revenue is now in a free-fall, presenting a new challenge to the beleaguered sector.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 06:45 PM   #92
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TABLE-U.S. airlines April traffic data

CHICAGO, May 7 (Reuters) - The following table lists April mainline operational data for the nine largest U.S. airlines by passenger traffic, compared with the same month a year earlier:

Code:
          ----Traffic----    ---Capacity---     --Load factor--
           RPMs   Pct Chg     ASMs  Pct Chg      Pct     Change
Delta*       15.41      -7.7    18.94     -7.1     81.4   -0.5 pts
American     10.28      -4.7    12.64     -6.1     81.3   +1.2 pts
United        8.31     -10.5    10.35    -10.2     80.3   -0.2 pts
Continental   6.79      -2.3     8.17     -6.3     83.1   +3.5 pts
Southwest     6.52      +4.1     8.46     -1.9     77.0   +4.4 pts
US Airways    4.99      -3.0     5.88     -4.8     84.8   +1.6 pts
JetBlue       2.22      -2.7     2.76     -4.0     80.6   +1.1 pts
AirTran       1.51      +0.3     1.88     -7.9     80.4   +6.5 pts
Alaska**      1.48      -5.9     1.87     -8.3     78.9   +2.0 pts
NOTES: Traffic is measured in billions of revenue passenger miles, the distance traveled by paying passengers.

Capacity is measured in billions of available seat miles, reflecting the number of seats available for sale and the length of the flights.

Load factor is the percentage of seats occupied by paying passengers and change is in percentage points.

*Figures for Delta include data for regional affiliates.

**Alaska Airlines does not include unit Horizon Air.

All data are from the airlines.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 03:26 PM   #93
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US airlines expect drop in summer travel

ATLANTA, May 15 (Reuters) - U.S. airlines expect a seven percent fall in travel this summer as the global recession hurts demand.

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) expects 195 million passengers to fly on U.S. airlines June 1 to Aug. 31, down from 209 million during summer 2008.

"The weak economy has forced additional aircraft out of the marketplace, so despite fewer travelers, planes will remain near full," ATA President and CEO James May said in a statement.

Airlines have been hard hit as the weak economy caused consumers and businesses to curtail spending on travel. Many airlines have cut their seat capacity.

This month, all but two of the nine-largest U.S. carriers posted traffic declines for the month of April. Load factors, which reflect how full planes are, rose for seven of the nine, aided by the capacity cuts.
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Old May 20th, 2009, 03:09 PM   #94
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ATA reports April 2009 traffic results for member airlines
20 May 2009
Airline Industry Information

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organisation that represents US airlines, has reported April traffic results for its member carriers.

The total number of passengers travelling on ATA member airlines in April 2009 dropped by 6.3% compared to the same month last year. Cargo traffic (revenue ton miles) for March 2009 showed a decrease of 21% compared to March 2008.

Passenger revenue for April 2009 fell by 18% compared to April 2008 while the average price to fly one mile declined by 12.6%.

According to ATA its member airlines and their affiliates transport more than 90% of US airline passenger and cargo traffic.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 12:23 PM   #95
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ANALYSIS-Hedging strategy key for airlines whipsawed by fuel

CHICAGO, May 29 (Reuters) - U.S. airlines, burned twice last year by shocking oil price volatility, are under new pressure to hedge now and hedge smart as oil gains from its January lows.

But as usual, the stability of the airline industry is tenuous. And carriers are wary of hedging too aggressively, fearful of locking in at above-market fuel prices.

"They don't want to overhedge, but they don't want to be caught with rising fuel prices," said Helane Becker, airline analyst at Jesup & Lamont Securities. "They're working on being perfectly hedged."

Airlines don't hedge to make money, Becker said. "For them, hedging is to make sure they know what their costs are going to be."

The industry was blindsided in the first half of 2008 by a spike to record high oil prices, which directly influence jet fuel costs.

While carriers cheered a subsequent decline, some wrote off millions of dollars in the last three quarters as their fuel-hedge portfolios lost value. The ironic twist led airlines like Southwest Airlines and US Airways Group to unwind fuel hedges or stop hedging altogether.

Hedges are like insurance contracts companies use to blunt the risk of sudden price fluctuations in commodities crucial to their operations. So carriers use derivatives markets to lock in fuel costs and smooth out volatility.

Oil prices have nearly doubled since Jan. 20. Nymex crude <CLc1> traded near $65 a barrel on Friday, still down about 57 percent from a record high near $150 a barrel reached last year.

"Given airlines' present limited pricing power against (expected oil price gains), and indications of a resurgence in demand for raw and refined petroleum products, there is growing pressure on airlines to hedge effectively," said airline consultant Robert Mann.

ALL COSTS ARE VARIABLE

For major airlines, fuel rivals labor costs as the top expense. When oil prices rallied last year, talk of airline bankruptcies was rampant and some said carriers must merge or die.

Only one major airline merger occurred in 2008 -- Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines. Other carriers sought strategic partnerships like the one formed by United Airlines and Continental Airlines .

Meanwhile, all the major airlines undertook massive downsizing to improve efficiency and bolster fares. Airlines also began charging for items and services like baggage checks that once were included in the ticket price.

Such steps were a huge help to the struggling industry. Now, some experts view capacity cuts as the most effective way to blunt the impact of volatile fuel prices.

"If they were in better health, they would be more than willing to implement a bigger hedging strategy, but they just can't afford to do it because they're so cash strapped," said Basili Alukos, airline analyst at Morningstar.

"They view hedging as risky because prices can go against them," Alukos said. "And they all subscribe to the theory that in the long run, all costs are variable."
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Old May 31st, 2009, 11:12 AM   #96
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FACTBOX-U.S. airlines fuel hedging positions

May 29 (Reuters) - U.S. airlines have hedged the price of oil to protect themselves from rising fuel costs.

In recent quarters, some carriers wrote down millions of dollars in losses as falling oil prices eroded the value of their hedge portfolios. Now, with oil prices creeping higher, carriers are under more pressure to lock in the relatively low prices.

U.S. crude oil future <CLc1> traded near $65 a barrel in New York on Friday, up from $32.40 in December and down from an all-time high above $147 in mid-July.

The following table shows fuel hedging positions as reported by the carriers:

Code:
AIRLINE                      PERIOD      DETAILS
Delta Air Lines               Q2         75 pct hedged; $2.08
                                      projected fuel price
                                      per gallon
                           2009       61 pct hedged; $1.99
                                      projected fuel price
                                      per gallon
American Airlines             Q2         37 pct hedged at
AMR Corp                                 average cap of
                                      $2.59/gallon; 33 pct
                                      hedged at average
                                      floor of
                                      $1.99/gallon.
                           2009       35 pct hedged at
                                      average cap of
                                      $2.54/gallon; 32     
                                      pct hedged at average
                                      floor of $1.89/gallon
United Airlines               Q2         the company expects
UAL Corp                                 mainline fuel price,
                                      including the impact
                                      of settled hedges, to
                                      be $2.02/gallon
Continental Airlines          Q2         35 percent hedged with
                                      an average price cap
                                      of $3.48/gallon
                                      35 percent hedged with
                                      an average price floor
                                      of $2.61/gallon
Southwest Airlines            2009       29 percent
US Airways                    Q2         25 percent hedged with
                                      range of $2.03
                                      -$2.08/gallon
                           2009       18 percent hedged with
                                      range of $1.96
                                      -$2.01/gallon
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Old June 11th, 2009, 09:16 AM   #97
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US Airways chief says airline industry needs to get smaller to get profitable, improve service
10 June 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - US Airways Group Inc. Chief Executive Doug Parker said Wednesday the airline industry needs to get much smaller to stay viable, and consolidation is one of the keys to bringing the sector back to profitability.

Speaking at the carrier's annual meeting in New York, Parker applauded the merger of Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines -- saying the creation of the world's biggest carrier was a major step toward better streamlining the industry. But he noted that the combined company has less than one-quarter of the U.S. market, leaving a great deal of room for further consolidation.

United Airlines walked away from a deal last year to combine with US Airways, but has not ruled it out at some point.

At the meeting, Parker also reiterated the carrier's plan to rake in $400 million to $500 million this year by charging for things such as checked bags and choice seating. He said extra fees are here to stay.

Parker said that the fees, or "ancillary revenue," have allowed the airline to compensate for revenue lost last year to high fuel prices, and this year to the steep drop off in the economy.

Parker said that although some customers were turned off by the bag fees, the added charges have reduced the number of bags flowing through the system by 20 percent -- and allowed baggage handling systems to operate more efficiently. Making this arduous process smaller and more streamlined has allowed the Tempe, Ariz.-based airline to improve its on-time performance, Parker said.

Data released by the Transportation Department on Tuesday showed nearly 80 percent of US Airways nonstop flights were on time in April, making the carrier ninth of 19 airlines reporting those results.

In addition to $15 for a first checked bag and $25 for a second, US Airways currently charges for other a la carte items like choice seats in coach and pillows and blankets. It began charging for drinks like soda and juice last year, but reversed its plan in March when no other airlines followed suit.

Parker told shareholders that the company will continue to strive for margin improvement -- a great deal of which has come from extra fees -- and other operational adjustments to prepare for "another difficult year for the airline industry."

US Airways shares closed down 12 cents, or 4.4 percent, at $2.63.
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Old June 11th, 2009, 10:31 AM   #98
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I like How Southwest Airlines is always positive on those list while the others a falling.
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Old June 14th, 2009, 07:03 PM   #99
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Airline capacity cuts may lead to higher fares

CHICAGO, June 12 (Reuters) - Plans by major U.S. airlines to slash the number of seats they sell may bolster fares this fall, further stabilizing prices that tumbled this year as economic weakness drained travel demand.

Delta Air Lines and AMR Corp's American Airlines said they would cut their capacity deeper than previously predicted. The capacity reductions are expected to kick in after the peak summer travel season.

"When they do kick in, I expect price points to move up a bit," said Rick Seaney, chief executive of FareCompare.

"It's about competition," he said. "So the routes that are losing the seats are the ones that are going be boosted, and the ones that continue to have excess capacity are still going to have really good deals."

Delta said it would trim system capacity by 10 percent this year, with reductions beginning in September. Previously, it said its system capacity would be down 6 percent to 8 percent.

American Airlines said it would cut capacity by 7.5 percent this year, compared with a previous forecast for a 6.5 percent decline. Other airlines signaled their intention -- or at least their willingness -- to cut capacity.

The airline industry, battered severely last year by soaring fuel prices and later by falling travel demand, rapidly downsized to offset its two heaviest burdens. But the carriers were largely unprofitable in the first quarter despite a stunning decline in fuel prices in the second half of 2008.

Now, as airlines face a new rally in oil prices and demand remains tepid, experts say they must once again cut their capacity in hopes of charging more for tickets.

Earlier this year, average fares slipped thanks to deep discounts and seasonal sales that lasted longer than usual. Prices since have begun to stabilize, Seaney said.

"If you look at a two- or three-year history, it's not terribly low right now, but there's a lot of sale fares still thrown in the market right now," he said.

Capacity cuts already in place have helped airlines keep planes full, even if fares remain somewhat depressed, said Terry Trippler at tripplersview.com, a travel opinion website.

"Planes are still going to be somewhat full again because capacity is down," Trippler said. "But the airports are going to be a little lighter so the hassle factor is going to drop substantially."
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Old July 6th, 2009, 07:30 PM   #100
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American Eagle traffic falls 5 percent in June, narrower than slip at sister carrier American
6 July 2009

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Regional airline American Eagle said Monday that traffic in June fell 5 percent, a narrower decline than sister carrier American Airlines, boosted slightly by improved traffic at a Puerto Rican business-jet company it operates.

The airline said paying passengers on American Eagle and Executive Airlines flew 699.6 million miles in June, down from 736.8 million a year earlier. American Eagle saw traffic fall 5.9 percent, while Executive Airlines traffic gained 7.7 percent. American Airlines traffic fell 8.1 percent in June.

Capacity across the two carriers fell 8.4 percent in June from a year earlier, slipping to 898.1 million available seat miles from 980.8 million available seat miles a year earlier. Carriers can trim capacity by removing jets from service or by operating smaller planes to accommodate lower demand.

Occupancy fell 4.2 percent systemwide in June to reach a load factor, or percentage of seats filled, of 77.9 percent.

So far this year, traffic on both carriers is down a combined 8.7 percent. Capacity has been trimmed 7.9 percent, while load factor has declined 0.6 percentage point to 70.6 percent.

Shares of AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, rose 3 cents in midday trading to reach $4.25.
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