United States of America
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Air Travel is frequently the most practical method of covering the large distances between cities in the USA. The domestic air system is extensive, with dozens of competing airlines, hundreds of airports and thousands of flights daily. The US is the world's largest aviation market. Domestic airlines have mostly rebounded since September 11. Delta (now merged with Northwest), United (merged with Continental) and US Airways (merged with American) have each entered and emerged from bankruptcy still flying, though mergers and downsizing have had an impact on the travel experience. The US has three major international airlines that function in a similar manner and size as a national carrier; American Airlines, United-Continental Airlines Holdings and Delta Air Lines. The expansion of LCCs such as Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and JetBlue has increased competition and lowered prices domestically and in some cross-border markets.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is an agency of the United States Department of Transportation with authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the US. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the government agency responsible for security in all modes of transportation and is solely responsible for carrying out screening of passengers and their baggage (both checked and carry-on) at 450 airports across the US.
Airports in United States of America
2,375 total articles
United Airlines expects to attain a positive passenger unit revenue performance in 2Q2017, which would mark the first positive result for the airline in that metric since early 2015. The airline’s PRASM results in 1Q2017 were in line with its initial forecast, which was more conservative than those of its larger US rivals. American and Delta refined their 1Q2017 unit revenue forecast downward, while United kept its guidance intact, and its performance fell within its initial estimates.
The airline’s 2Q2017 positive unit revenue outlook is driven by many factors, including a shift in its management of close in bookings to reduce reliance on advance purchase discounts. Latin America and the US domestic market continue to be bright spots for United, while declines in Pacific unit revenue continue to moderate. United’s better than expected unit revenue performance in trans-Atlantic markets in 1Q2017 should moderate as point of sale tilts more toward Europe later in the year.
Markets seem still to be digesting United’s decision to increase its planned 2017 capacity growth by 1.5ppt. United is stressing that much of the growth is driven by increased gauge, and the growth is designed to restore United to its natural share in the US domestic market.
As the most conspicuous and largest, Emirates Airline often takes on its shoulders the increasingly difficult task of defending Gulf aviation. Emirates often single handedly represents the Gulf and "Middle East Big 3", in much the same way as Dubai carries regional geopolitics.
Just as there are significant differences between the Big 3 US airlines who have strenuously opposed the Gulf carriers in the US market, so Emirates is fundamentally different from its peers: it is longer established, has a larger home market and has had a more commercial mandate from the beginning.
Yet Emirates must compete in a market where many others would like a piece of that market. Just as Dubai Inc modelled itself in many ways on Singapore Inc, there are many who would follow the same trail. This does not lead to steady market conditions.
Certainly the policies of US President Trump have hurt aviation and tourism. But Emirates' announcement of a 19% reduction in services to the United States is less about US policies and more about the nature of the market forces that started before Trump was even a serious Presidential contender.
Chinese airlines are turning their focus to Latin America at the direction of their government, which wants a global presence from its airlines. Air China serves São Paulo and Havana (which it considers part of Latin America), and in Apr-2017 China Southern launched Mexico City as a tag from Vancouver. HNA partially owns Brazil's Azul and Portugal's TAP, which HNA can feed into from a forthcoming Beijing-Lisbon flight on the HNA group carrier Beijing Capital Airlines.
China Eastern has relied on codeshare access to Latin America but is now considering placing its own metal in the region. China Eastern is understood to be evaluating a nonstop Shanghai-Mexico City service, with a tag continuing to lower South America. China Eastern could work in partnership with Aeromexico for the service, and to obtain Mexico City slots. Guiding the development is Delta Air Lines, which has stakes in both Aeromexico and China Eastern.
Alaska Air Group has revised projected synergies from its merger with Virgin America upwards in both costs and revenue as it leverages the power of a larger network with a broader footprint in California, and uses the combined fleet to maximise profitability on transcontinental routes by placing higher gauge aircraft in those markets.
The existing Airbus narrowbodies operated by Virgin America will remain in the combined airline’s fleet for the foreseeable future. As a result, those aircraft are being reconfigured to offer standard interiors, including Alaska’s first class seat.
Similarly to Virgin America prior to the merger, Alaska has decided that a lie flat seat offering does not fit into its strategy in the contested US transcontinental market. In fact, choosing not to develop a lie flat product could put Alaska in a more favourable position when an (inevitable) economic down cycle occurs.
Despite the more favourable synergy estimates, Alaska will face some margin pressure due to Virgin America’s overall lower margin business. However, even though its margins are likely to drop in 2017, Alaska is stressing that its pretax margin performance will best the industry average.
ULCCs Frontier and Spirit hold orders for more than 150 Airbus narrowbodies to support the proliferation of the model across the US. Frontier’s fleet is projected to grow by 83% from YE2016 to 2021 – from 66 to 121 aircraft. Spirit’s current fleet forecast shows 46% growth from YE2017 to 2021 – from 108 aircraft to 158 aircraft.
Each airline is taking nuanced approaches to financial management of its fleet. Spirit has opted to purchase some aircraft off lease in order to enlarge its number of owned aircraft, while Frontier, which is just embarking on the process of accessing public markets, will use operating leases as its primary financing vehicle.
The planned growth by each airline reflects conclusions reached by Frontier and Spirit about the opportunities for the ULCC model in the US, despite changing market dynamics – namely a push by large US global network airlines to create pricing segments to compete more effectively with ULCCs. Despite the focus on price matching by larger airlines, Frontier and Spirit remain bullish on the opportunities for stimulation in the US market.
After toying with the idea of engaging in an initial public offering for more than year, the US ULCC Frontier Airlines now intends to go public as its major shareholder, ULCC specialist Indigo Partners, sets its sights on Argentina. Frontier has arrived at and passed many ULCC milestones, including producing unit costs excluding fuel below the USD6 cent benchmark for the ULCC model, placing it on par with its fellow ULCCs Spirit Airlines and Allegiant.
Frontier markets its product differently from other US ULCCs, giving passengers the options to purchase product in a bundled form or a la carte, but it still maintains ultra low fares. However, Frontier couldn’t escape the pricing pressure that permeated the US market in 2016, joining the majority of the country’s airlines in posting distinct yield and unit revenue declines.
Obviously, despite the pricing pressure and changing dynamics in the US market, Frontier remains bullish on the opportunities for ULCCs in the market place, concluding that numerous markets exist for it to operate profitably with low fares.
During the past several years Frontier’s network focus has been somewhat murky. Now Frontier’s network strategy is targeting high fare, underserved routes. And like its rival Spirit, Frontier also singles out medium sized markets that offer some protection from larger competitors.