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US airlines’ cautious capacity approach proves beneficial


Cautious capacity growth plans for 2011 highlight concerns among US carriers in adding back seats at a rate that could create the excess capacity situations of previous post-recession recoveries. Instead, airlines are focussing on the protection of yields and profits as escalating fuel costs threaten the global aviation industry’s profits. [2805 words]

Unlock the following content in this report:


  • Tale of two markets: domestic capacity declines while international reports boost
  • Single-digit growth or contractions across the board
  • Load factors remain strong; averaging above 80%
  • Unit revenue growth higher across the board
  • 18 consecutive months of revenue growth for US carriers: ATA
  • A profitable summer driven by high load factors and improved yields
  • Renewed challenge of escalating fuel prices
  • ATA opposes proposed increase in passenger taxes

Graphs and data:

  • North American carriers’ domestic passenger capacity growth (% change year-on-year): Jun-2011
  • Net Income (USD billions) and Profit Margin (%) for US Airlines
  • Seat capacity between major North America and Asian hubs: Jul-2005 to Jul-2011
  • US domestic and international weekly capacity (ASMs – bill per week): 4Q2007 to 4Q2011
  • International Seating Capacity Constitutes a Growing Share of US Airlines’ Global Route Networks
  • US domestic seating capacity trends
  • Domestic capacity (ASMs) per USD1000 of real US GDP since 1979
  • North American carriers’ traffic (RPMs) growth (%): Jun-2011
  • Select US airlines domestic traffic highlights: Jun-2011
  • North American carriers’ load factors (%): Jun-2011
  • Yields closing gap to unit costs of operations 
  • US airline unit revenue highlights (estimates): Jun-2011
  • ATA domestic yield: Jun-2009 to Jun-2011
  • 12-Month rolling Passenger Revenue per Available Seat Mile (PRASM)
  • Price of air travel compared to inflation rate
  • Summer Travel Season: Passengers (mill) on US Airlines
  • Jet fuel costs: 1991 to 2011F
  • Jet fuel price development: Jan-2008 to Dec-2012 (Prices have surpassed USD140/bbl on Rising Crude and Refining Crack Spread)
  • Fuel consumption: 2005 to 2011F
  • Tax Bite on USD300 One-Stop Domestic Round Trip
  •  'Special' Aviation Tax Burden exceeded $16bn in 2010: 2010 collections (USD millions) from airlines
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