US Airways and Delta Airlines Report a Very Profitable 2011

Signalling the continued profitability and demand for new pilots, US Airways (US) reported 2011 net income of $71 million, down from reported profits in 2010. The earnings result nevertheless marked the carrier’s second consecutive year in the black despite a steep rise in spending on fuel.

A strong revenue performance and tight control of expenses aside from fuel allowed US Airways to withstand a 41.4% year-over-year increase in annual aircraft fuel costs to $3.4 billion. “Considering where fuel prices were, we’re very happy with the results,” chairman and CEO Doug Parker said. “Fuel expense was up $1.2 billion” compared to 2010 but “impressive revenue growth” helped offset the spike and allow for profitability.

US president Scott Kirby said the carrier is benefiting from a “robust pricing and demand environment” with metrics trending up. “The new year has started out strong both for business and leisure demand,” he reported. “Business demand in particular remains quite strong … The pricing environment also remains strong and we’re successfully recovering fuel costs.”

Delta Air Lines (DL) reported 2011 net income of $854 million, up 44% over a net profit of $593 million in 2010.

Annual revenue rose 11% year-over-year to $35.12 billion while expenses heightened 12% to $33.14 billion, producing an operating profit of $1.98 billion, down 11%. DL “fully covered our fuel cost increase with higher revenues,” president Ed Bastian said in a statement. “Our revenue momentum has continued into 2012, and we are currently seeing our January consolidated passenger unit revenues up 15% year-over-year.”

DL’s fourth-quarter net income was $425 million, significantly widened over a $19 million net profit in the prior-year period. Fourth-quarter revenue was up 8% to $8.34 billion. It said the three-month period was its most profitable December quarter ever.