Airlines for America projects 16.1 million passengers over Labor Day

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the US airlines, has projected 16.1 million passengers will fly worldwide in scheduled service on US airlines over the Labor Day travel period, up 5 percent (110,000 passengers per day) from the 15.4 million passengers estimated to have flown during this period last year, the company said.

Accordingly, airlines are adding 133,000 seats per day across their networks to accommodate the expected increase in demand.

Over the seven-day air travel period, beginning Wednesday, Aug. 30 and ending Tuesday, Sept. 5, ATL, LAX and ORD, respectively, are expected to be the three busiest US airports based on departing seats in scheduled service. Friday, Sept. 1 is expected to be the busiest day, followed by Thursday, Aug. 31 and Monday, Sept. 4.

US airlines reported the following operational results for the first half of 2017, according to the Department of Transportation:

US airlines completed 98.55 percent of domestic flights, down slightly from 98.75 percent in the same period of 2016;

Airlines posted an on-time arrival rate of 78.66 percent, down from 81.42 percent;

Mishandled bag rate improved from 2.65 per 1,000 passengers to 2.54 — the lowest level ever recorded;

The rate of involuntarily denied boardings fell from 0.62 per 10,000 passengers to 0.52 — also the lowest level ever recorded.

Nine US passenger airlines (Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United) collectively reported a pre-tax profit margin of 11.4 percent (USD 9.2 billion) for the first half of 2017, down from 15.5 percent (USD 12 billion) during in the first half of 2016. The decline in profitability was attributable to expenses surging 9.1 percent, outpacing 4.2 percent growth in revenues. Higher operating expenses were driven by increases in fuel (+19.9%), labor (+9.1%), maintenance (+8.3%), aircraft (+6.8%) and airport rents and landing fees (+3.1%).

Operating revenues rose largely on 2.8 percent more passenger traffic, accompanied by a 1.2 percent increase in passenger yield (airfare per mile).

Overall, US inflation rose 2.2 percent in the first half of 2017, implying a 1 percent year-over-year decline in inflation-adjusted (“real”) airfare.

Airlines are reinvesting in the customer experience at a rate currently outpacing 2016. The nine US passenger airlines cited above collectively reinvested USD 1.6 billion per month during the first half of 2017 in their product and the customer experience. These investments include enhanced baggage and airport security systems, expanded route networks and seat capacity, improvements to in-flight Wi-Fi and in-flight entertainment, new aircraft and airport amenities such as upgraded terminals and lounge space.

Annually, commercial aviation helps drive USD 1.5 trillion in US economic activity and more than 10 million US jobs. Airlines for America (A4A) vigorously advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and as the indispensable network that drives our nation´s economy and global competitiveness.