The spike in jet fuel prices did not prevent the country’s seven largest airline companies from earning $1.09 billion in combined net income for the three months ended Sept. 30, paving the way for expansion and increasing the need for new pilots.
That was an impressive result given a 14.9% year-over-year rise in costs to $34 billion driven mainly by higher fuel prices. Revenue grew 9.7% to $36.5 billion and operating profit was $2.49 billion, down 29.5%.
All seven airlines were profitable on an operating basis and five of the seven earned a net profit. It’s not hard to see why the carriers stayed in the black: Capacity and non-fuel costs barely grew year-over-year and load factors remained extremely high.
The seven carriers’ collective third-quarter traffic rose by 1% to 203.41 billion Revenue Passenger Miles, producing a load factor of 85.1%.
United Continental Holdings, parent company of merger partners United Airlines (UA) and Continental Airlines (CO), posted a best-among-US majors third-quarter net profit of $653 million.