October 31, 2018
American Airlines truly set itself apart from its peers in the third quarter—and not in a good way. AA posted a dismal 7.5% operating profit margin, nearly half of Delta’s 13.9% margin. But, with good reason, management remains optimistic. United, on the other hand, has plenty to smile about right now as it offset 100% of its rising fuel costs with rising revenues.
Southwest didn’t have trouble with fuel thanks to hedges, but non-fuel costs posed a headwind. Hawaiian Airlines posted the best Q3 margin of the major U.S. carriers. But Spirit might be the biggest winner of all, vaulting itself from the middle of the pack last year to nearly the front. JetBlue and Allegiant again stumbled. And although Alaska didn’t have a great result, there are plenty of reasons it should soon rejoin the leading carriers in the U.S.
October 17, 2018
Delta is doing a remarkable job keeping pace with rapidly rising costs. Sure, the airline’s third-quarter fuel bill rose 35% year over year. But rising revenues offset enough of those costs that Delta’s operating profit margin fell only two points.
Meanwhile, what’s behind American’s recent troubles? Unfortunately, when American reports later in the month, it’s expected to be a much less happy affair. Alitalia looks like it will be restructured. Is this new direction the right direction? Canada’s WestJet announced its first Dreamliner routes, which were a little surprising—at least until you look at Air Canada’s network. Lastly, Russia’s Pobeda is proving to be an atypical success.
October 4, 2018
Sun Country is largely missing out on the golden age that U.S. carriers have been basking in since 2015. In the past 12 months (ending with the second quarter, the most recent to be reported) all the U.S. carriers posted operating profit margins ranging from a healthy 9% to an excellent 16%—except for Sun Country, which delivered a distant 4% margin.
Will Sun shine again? One airline enjoying the U.S. party is Frontier, which had a solid second quarter despite a 19% increase in operating costs. Talks of an Emirates-Etihad merger have heated up, according to a Bloomberg report. A merger might save Etihad, but who will save these other troubled airlines? South African Airways, Fastjet and Jet Airways are all facing dire straits. Lastly, JetBlue is adding a basic economy fare class. Will it be the last U.S. airline to do so?