US carriers see revenue gains in February

Washington DC
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A group of carriers represented by the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) have posted revenue gains for February, the 14th consecutive month of revenue traction.

The group includes all the US majors, JetBlue and various regional carriers operating on behalf of their legacy partners.

Passenger revenue for those carriers grew 13% year-over-year as the average price to fly one mile increased 10.8%.

ATA concludes international markets were particularly strong, growing 17% compared with 11.5% growth in passenger revenue in the domestic market place. Passenger revenue in the Pacific turned a particularly strong performance, increasing 27%.

US domestic yields grew 11.5% in February as carriers were able to institute fare increases during the month; however, ATA chief economist John Heimlich states: "As fuel prices remain at or near historically high levels, US airlines may experience a more challenging revenue environment."

Analysts at Raymond James explain fare increases are largely changes in the prices of airline inventory fare buckets, but if seats in those buckets fail to sell as a travel date grows closer, "they are usually moved down into lower priced buckets, which negates a portion, and sometimes all, of the fare increases".

But if the mid-East turmoil subsides, and oil prices drop into the $80 per barrel range, "the recent series of fare increases would not immediately be rescinded and then only if demand weakens. Thus, there would likely be an upward surge in airline earnings", the analysts state.