US-based airlines saw a $1.07 billion net loss coupled with increased expenses in the first half of 2012, said trade organisation Airlines for America (A4A) at a media briefing in Washington.
Net profit margins for the US airlines deteriorated from -0.4% in the first six months of 2011 to -1.5% for the first half of 2012. Excluding bankrupt AMR, that margin is 1.4% for the first half of the year, reflecting a net income of $835 million.
Overall expenses rose 9.4% in the first half of 2012 compared to the first half of 2011, which is higher than the 8.2% growth in operating revenues US airlines saw in the beginning of this year.
Fuel costs increased 13.1% during the first half of 2012. They represent about 34% of airlines' total operating expenses.
John Heimlich, A4A's vice president and chief economist, says he expects fuel prices to remain volatile and to outpace revenues.
"The airlines have to go into this with a fairly conservative view and say there's as much a chance [the price of fuel] can go up as it would go down," said Heimlich.
A4A's report includes Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, United Airlines and US Airways.