AirTran last week reported its highest first-quarter profit ever at $28.7 million and projected a profit for every quarter this year. On Friday AirTran announced that it is recalling all of the remaining pilots and flight attendants it had furloughed in 2008.
“I think AirTran will do very well over the next two years even if there’s no revenue improvement. This right now is a cost-based environment ideally suited for us,” declared Bob Fornaro, AirTran’s Chairman, President and CEO.
As a low-cost leader, the airline can afford the lower fares required to fill seats in this recession without sacrificing its profitability, AirTran executives said. Fornaro described the underlying fare structure as “very, very strong” from his airline’s point of view, although he’d like to see fewer fare sales.
AirTran also is benefiting because the demand for leisure travel has held up better than the demand for business travel during the recession. Domestic leisure travel has also been stronger than international leisure travel, according to Vice President of Marketing and Planning Kevin Healy.
AirTran estimates about 40% to 45% of its bookings are for business, and the carrier said it also is doing well because seating upgrades and its business class traffic are running higher than they ever have.