Continental Airlines’ yields and load factors flying high

Continental Airlines is the first US carrier to report May-2010 data and the figures were again positive. Consolidated (mainline plus regional) load factor rose 2.9 ppts year-on-year to 83.8%, while mainline load factor rose 2.8 ppts to 84.1%. Both were records for the month of May.

Capacity constraint helping yields recover

Continental’s consolidated RPMs rose 3.7% to 7.8 billion, while capacity (ASMs) rose just 0.2% to 9.3 billion.

For May-2010, Continental estimates consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile (RASM) to have increased by 23-24% year-on-year, while mainline RASM is estimated to have risen 22.5% to 23.5%. The year-on-year comparisons are favourable, given the massive 15-20% reductions witnessed between March and September last year.

Continental Airlines’ consolidated PRASM growth (% change year-on-year): May-2008 to May-2010

For April 2010, Continental confirmed that consolidated passenger RASM increased 14.8% year-on-year, while mainline passenger RASM increased 12.6% compared to Apr-2009.

The results were not enough to inspire a share market rally. Continental’s stock fell 3.8% yesterday.