- Passenger traffic (RPMs): -7.7% year-on-year;
- Load factor: 85.5%, +4.6 ppts.
Delta Air Lines reports 8% fall on trans-Atlantic traffic in Sep-2009
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United, Delta, American Airlines: Cost creep, rising oil prices put pressure on the Big 3 to deliver
For the large three global US network airlines – American, Delta and United – the final quarter of 2016 offers some hope of negative unit revenue trends starting to stabilise, a welcome sign after two years of declines. But those positive developments are occurring against a backdrop of rising fuel costs and overall cost creep for those airlines, as labour expenses rise in the face of new collective bargaining agreements they have achieved.
Although each airline has offered a nuanced interpretation of domestic trends, the general consensus is that dynamics began to improve in Aug-2016 as close-in yields started to strengthen. After enduring tough conditions in Latin America driven by Brazil’s recession, American and Delta posted positive passenger unit revenues (PRASM) in their Latin entities in 3Q2016, and expect further improvement. Higher industry capacity is creating challenges for those airlines in the Atlantic and Pacific, but generally it seems that the path of unit revenue declines in those regions should moderate progressively.
Delta is aiming to post positive PRASM early in 2017, and American believes it can reach a positive result in total unit revenues in 1H2017. For now United is not offering a specific time period for a reversal of negative PRASM, but feels confident it is heading in the right direction, given the changing dynamics in certain areas of its network.
Turkish Airlines and Pegasus to take unprecedented capacity decisions as Turkey air traffic slumps
Until 2014 Turkey was one of the most reliably fast-growing air traffic markets in Europe. In 2015 passenger numbers levelled off, and in 2016 traffic is set to decline. The impact of geopolitical events, including a series of terrorist attacks, the civil war in neighbouring Syria and the failed coup attempt in Jul-2016, has weighed heavily on demand for international travel to/from Turkey.
Foreign airlines switched capacity away from Turkey in summer 2016, but the country's two largest operators – Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines – continued to grow. However, following years of double-digit growth by both, Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines are taking unusual steps this winter. According to data from OAG, Turkish looks set to implement year-on-year capacity cuts, while Pegasus appears to be planning flat capacity for the period from Nov-2016 to Mar-2017. It seems likely that both airlines will again cut their growth targets for 2016.
Moreover, Pegasus is seeking wet-lease customers for six of its current fleet of 73 aircraft. Perhaps more significantly, Turkish is to reschedule 165 aircraft deliveries planned for 2018-2022, cutting its planned fleet size in 2021 from 439 to 400.