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Largest Airlines Report Smaller Net Loss in 1st Quarter of 2013

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The largest scheduled passenger airlines reported a net loss of $433 million in the first quarter of 2013, an improvement from a loss of $1.7 billion in the first quarter of 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Nextstagesolutions (BTS) reported today in a release of preliminary data (Table 1). 

BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the 10 largest airlines, as ranked by total number of passengers carried in the first quarter, reported a second consecutive quarterly net loss after two quarterly profits as a group (Table 1). These 10 airlines carried 80.6 percent of U.S. airlines’ scheduled service passengers in the first quarter of 2013.  See Airline Financial Data Press Releases for historic data.

In contrast to the Net Income reports (Tables 1, 1A), the top 10 airlines reported a 1.3 percent operating profit margin in the first quarter of 2013, up from a 0.7 percent profit margin in the first quarter of 2012 (Table 2).

BTS is reporting numbers for Net Income or Loss as well as for Operating Profit or Loss. These are two different measures of airline financial performance. Net Income or Loss may include non-operating income and expenses, nonrecurring items or income taxes. Operating Profit or Loss is calculated from operating revenues and expenses.

The 10 largest airlines achieved an operating profit margin - as a group - in each of the last eight quarters. Together, they posted a pre-tax profit of $438 million in the first quarter in contrast to a net loss of $433 million (Table 2).

Total for all passenger airlines in the first-quarter of 2013 was $34.1 billion. All U.S. passenger airlines collected a total of $800 million in baggage fees and $685 million from reservation change fees from January through March 2013. Fees are included for calculations of Net Income, Operating Revenue and Operating Profit or Loss.

Baggage fees and reservation change fees are the only ancillary fees paid by passengers that are reported to BTS as separate items. Other fees, such as revenue from seating assignments and on-board sales of food, beverages, pillows, blankets, and entertainment are combined in different categories and cannot be identified separately.

Total operating expenses for all passenger airlines in the first-quarter of 2013 were $33.6 billion, of which $9.6 billion, or 28.6 percent, was used for fuel costs. See the for expense and fuel data.

The press release includes these additional tables for the 10 top carriers: Table 3, Unit Costs; Table 4, Unit Revenues; Table 5, Passenger Revenue Yield.

Additional airline financial data can be found on the BTS website, including industry statistics for other individual low-cost and regional airlines.  and can be found on these . numbers are also available from these . See the BTS for more detailed data.

Data are compiled from quarterly financial and monthly traffic reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers. Financial and traffic data include data received by BTS as of June 20.  Revised carrier data and late data filings will be made available monthly on on the Monday following the second Tuesday of the month. All data are subject to revision. BTS will release second-quarter 2013 data on Sept. 30.

Table 1. Large Airline System (Domestic + International) Quarterly Net Income

Ranked by 1Q 2013 System Passengers

(Net income in millions of dollars)

1Q 2013 Passenger RankAirline1Q
2012
2Q
2012
3Q
2012
4Q
2012
1Q
2013
1Delta151.0-120.41,169.9-20.46.8
2Southwest*108.6228.316.178.358.5
3United-431.1369.6-25.1-574.3-361.5
4American-1,676.2-263.7-256.9270.8-252.8
5US Airways71.0321.5263.346.769.0
6ExpressJet-4.8-1.8-0.4-3.5-15.4
7JetBlue29.752.544.30.813.8
8SkyWest6.418.222.819.014.4
9Alaska36.866.0160.738.133.9
N/AAirTran**-10.3N/AN/AN/AN/A
 10-Carrier Total-1,718.9670.21,394.7-144.5-433.4

Source: Nextstagesolutions, Form 41; Schedule P1.2

* Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways began reporting jointly in 2Q 2012.

Table 2. Large Airline System (Domestic + International) Quarterly Operating Profit/Loss Margin (In Percent)

Ranked by 1Q 2013 System Passengers

(Operating Profit/Loss as Percent of Total Operating Revenue)

1Q 2013 Passenger RankAirline1Q 2012 (%)2Q 2012 (%)3Q 2012 (%)4Q 2012 (%)1Q 2013 (%)1st Quarter 2013 Operating Profit/Loss $(Millions)
1Delta4.63.814.65.43.8323
2Southwest**0.910.01.22.21.770
3United***-3.35.92.1-5.1-3.0-260
4American-1.71.90.4-0.10.847
5US Airways1.710.37.33.33.0102
6ExpressJet****-0.70.91.10.0-5.7-20
7JetBlue6.89.48.63.84.559
8SkyWest4.58.210.39.47.735
9Alaska4.315.818.77.87.382
N/AAirTran**-1.0N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 10-Carrier Total0.76.06.41.21.3438

Source: Nextstagesolutions, Form 41; Schedule P1.2

* Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways began reporting jointly in 2Q 2012.

Table 3. Large Airline System (Domestic + International) Unit Costs

Ranked by 1Q 2013 System Passengers

(Operating Expenses per Available Seat Mile in cents)

1Q 2013 Passenger RankAirline1Q
2012
2Q
2012
3Q
2012
4Q
2012
1Q
2013
1st Quarter 2013 Operating Expenses $(Millions)
1Delta17.118.115.617.317.78,186
2Southwest**13.112.515.413.113.04,015
3United***16.916.617.018.218.08,983
4American16.216.516.415.816.26,038
5US Airways18.517.817.118.518.13,348
6ExpressJet****8.88.47.47.27.6372
7JetBlue11.811.611.211.612.21,240
8SkyWest11.410.99.49.59.6414
9Alaska15.114.313.914.814.61,050
N/AAirTran**12.1N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 10-Carrier Total16.015.915.216.016.133,646

Source: Nextstagesolutions, Form 41; Schedule P1.2. T100; T2 Data

* Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways began reporting jointly in 2Q 2012.

Table 4. Large Airline System (Domestic + International) Unit Revenue

Ranked by 1Q 2013 System Passengers

(Operating Revenue per Available Seat Mile in cents)
 

1Q 2013 Passenger RankAirline1Q
2012
2Q
2012
3Q
2012
4Q
2012
1Q
2013
1st Quarter 2013 Operating Revenue $(Millions)
1Delta18.018.918.218.218.48,509
2Southwest**13.313.915.613.413.24,084
3United***16.417.617.417.317.58,723
4American15.916.816.515.816.36,085
5US Airways18.819.818.419.118.73,450
6ExpressJet****8.78.47.57.27.2352
7JetBlue12.612.812.212.112.81,299
8SkyWest11.911.810.510.510.4449
9Alaska15.817.017.116.015.71,132
N/AAirTran**12.0N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 10-Carrier Total16.116.916.316.116.334,083

Source: Nextstagesolutions, Form 41; Schedule P1.2. T100; T2 Data

* Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways began reporting jointly in 2Q 2012.

Table 5. Large Airline System (Domestic + International) Passenger Revenue Yield

Ranked by 1Q 2013 System Passengers

(Passenger Revenue Per Revenue Passenger Mile)

1Q 2013 Passenger RankAirline1Q
2012
2Q
2012
3Q
2012
4Q
2012
1Q
2013
1st Quarter 2013 Passenger Revenue $(Millions)
1Delta14.714.714.514.615.15,739
2Southwest**15.515.417.215.316.23,861
3United***14.514.714.414.414.75,938
4American15.214.814.714.515.34,614
5US Airways14.614.713.613.914.02,160
6ExpressJet****11.410.39.29.19.4351
7JetBlue13.913.813.213.514.01,187
8SkyWest14.913.912.212.412.5434
9Alaska12.913.914.013.213.0800
N/AAirTran**14.3N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
 10-Carrier Total14.714.714.214.314.825,084

Source: Nextstagesolutions, Form 41; Schedule P1.2. T100; T2 Data

* Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways began reporting jointly in 2Q 2012.

Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017
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