Airline Weekly

The Airline Weekly Lounge Podcast

Airline Weekly Lounge Episode 96: Profit Preservation for U.S. Carriers

Seth Kaplan
May 1st, 2018 at 8:05 PM EDT

Revenues for U.S. carriers remained terrifically healthy in the first quarter, and everybody made money. But rising labor and fuel costs generally shrunk year-over-year profit margins. United, which continues to trail Delta and American in profitability, did a pretty good job of preserving its margin. Profits slid a bit more at American, but it was especially buoyant in Latin America, where AA is the leading U.S. carrier.

One airline that saw rather grisly margin deterioration was Alaska as fuel, labor and maintenance cost increases severely outpaced revenues. JetBlue and Spirit both did okay, but one was happier than the other. Southwest and Hawaiian posted handsome 12% margins in the off-peak quarter. Meanwhile, Allegiant was in a class by itself, posting a 19% first-quarter profit margin.

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