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US airlines maintain capacity caution; positive influence on yields, load factors and profitability


US airlines, including Delta, United Continental and Southwest, plan to maintain their capacity discipline in 4Q2011 and FY2012, after seeing the benefits that tight supply can bring in terms of profitability, yields and load factors - especially amid a deteriorating economic environment.

Capacity growth among the major US airlines in Aug-2011, a peak summer travel month, was generally limited to single-digits – the exception being the smaller Spirit Airlines – with all of the major network carriers reducing capacity in the month. [3070 words]

Unlock the following content in this report:


  • Low single-digit growth in FY2011; FY2012 growth plans on hold
  • Delta Air Lines to extend 4Q2011 capacity cut into 1Q2012
  • United Continental to maintain capacity levels in 2012
  • American Airlines taking 'a very close look' at capacity plans for 2012
  • US Airways notes robust operating environment despite economic jitters
  • Southwest capacity levels to remain flat in 2012 and into 2013
  • JetBlue likely to expand by around 5% in 2012. No drop off in demand witnessed as yet

Graphs and data:

  • North American carriers’ domestic passenger capacity growth (% change year-on-year): Aug-2011
  • North American carriers’ traffic (RPMs) growth (%): Aug-2011
  • Shares comparison for US Airways, United Continental, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Skywest USA, Republic Airways, JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines: Jun-2011 to Sep-2011
  • US domestic capacity (ASMs, bill): 4Q2007 to 4Q2011
  • North American carriers’ load factors (%): Aug-2011
  • IATA’s EBITDA forecast by region: 2005 to FY2011F
  • Largest 15 domestic US airlines by capacity (seats): 19-Sep-2011 to 25-Sep-2011
  • US airline unit revenue highlights (estimates): Aug-2011
  • Select US airlines domestic traffic highlights: Aug-2011
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