With the bulk of U.S. airlines having now reported fourth quarter earnings, what has unfolded is largely a success story. 2017 wasn’t as good as 2015 or 2016, but it was generally good. Gone are the exhilarating margins of 25% and 27%. Instead we’re seeing healthy margins of 17% and 19%. Delta continues to set the pace for the Big Three. United continues to trail its peers, and that has led to some head-turning growth plans. American saw revenues surge in Dallas, Phoenix and its transatlantic market. Southwest overcame a fuel hedge reckoning to deliver strong results.
Alaska appears to be coming down to Earth. JetBlue, which saw some of its Caribbean markets decimated by hurricanes, nonetheless, had a good quarter. Allegiant delivered disappointing results by its standards, but the airline still bested all U.S. carriers that have reported in Q4. And while it continues to enjoy sunny results, Hawaiian may be facing more competition in 2018.