Last May, all nine of the biggest US airlines tracked (the big
five ‘legacy’ carriers plus Alaska, AirTran, jetBlue and Southwest) reported a
decline in demand (as measured by system RPMs – Revenue Passenger Miles). This
May, for the first time in ages, all nine are likely to show year-on-year
demand growth (though jetBlue and United have yet to report their figures).
Dynamic Allegiant Air, which has been growing far faster at well
over 20% in recent times, has seen its year-on-year RPM growth fall to a more
modest 8.7% in May, a figure beaten by Alaska Airlines’ almost 11% growth. The
volcanic ash cloud in April took a small toll on those legacy carriers with
extensive transatlantic networks.
The ‘new’ Frontier (which consists
of the old Denver-based Frontier and Midwest, both of which are now owned by
Republic) has seen RPM growth averaging over 10% in the first five months of
Monthly load factors as reported
by 12 US airlines have been plotted for the last 17 months to show how
different airlines compare and what impact seasonality has on the airlines’
ability to fill their aircraft.
While no guarantee of improved revenues, all the carriers (with the minor exception of Allegiant) reported better system-wide load factors in May 2010 than they did in May 2009. Alaska Airlines was up 4.6 percentage points to 81.4%, while American was up
3.7 points to 82.8%. AirTran, Continental, Hawaiian and Southwest have all
reported load factor improvements of between two and three percentage points in
May. Only Allegiant’s aircraft saw a small drop in load factor from 88.0% last
May to 87.9% this May. However, that still leaves it over two percentage points
clear of its nearest rival Hawaiian Airlines.
Republic Airways Holdings, which now owns and operates both
Frontier and Midwest under the Frontier brand, reported that May load factors
for the branded operation were up five percentage points from 80% to 85%.