Three U.S. airlines said Thursday that they made money in the April-June quarter, the start of the summer travel season, with help from cheaper jet fuel and extra fees on passengers.
The CEO of US Airways said bookings have picked up and the swoon in business travel may be easing. JetBlue expects to make money the next two quarters, and talked about expansion.
US Airways, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines were the last of the largest nine U.S. carriers to report second-quarter results. The final tally showed that out of nine US airlines reporting quarterly results, six made a profit in the second quarter of this year.
US Airways Group Inc. Chairman and CEO Doug Parker put a positive spin on the summer, saying leisure bookings have picked up since Memorial Day and even business travel seems to be stabilizing.
“We’re certainly not counting on a quick recovery, but we’re seeing some initial signs of recovery, which are encouraging,” he said.
Hunter Keay, an analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., said US Airways provided more evidence that business travel is still weak, “but it’s trending in the right direction. We’re gradually improving off an extremely depressed base.”
Even though fuel prices have been creeping up again, spending on fuel fell 59 percent at US Airways and 39 percent at JetBlue compared with a year ago.
That helped Forest Hills, N.Y.-based JetBlue Airways Corp. earn $20 million, compared with a loss of $9 million a year ago. That beat the analysts’ forecast of 2 cents per share profit. Revenue fell 6 percent, to $807 million.
JetBlue gave a bright earnings outlook for the rest of the year, saying it expects to be profitable the last two quarters and would consider expansion.
CEO Dave Barger said JetBlue wants to pay down debt and position itself to buy new gates or takeoff and landing slots at key airports such as Washington Reagan International.
Alaska Air Group Inc., which runs Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, reported profit of $29.1 million. Excluding one-time items, the Seattle airline earned 72 cents per share, beating the analysts’ forecast of 53 cents per share.