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Scheduled Passenger Airlines Report Larger Net Profit in 3rd-Quarter of 2013

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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reported a net profit of $3.2 billion in the third quarter of 2013, an increase from a profit of $1.4 billion in the third 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 26 scheduled service airlines reported an after-tax net profit for the second consecutive quarter.

In addition to the after-tax Net Income reports, the scheduled service passenger airlines reported a $4.7 billion pre-tax operating profit in the third quarter of 2013, up from $2.6 billion profit in the third quarter of 2012. The airlines reported a pre-tax operating profit – as a group - for the 11th consecutive quarter (Table 1).

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 before taxes and other nonrecurring items.

Total for all passenger airlines in the third-quarter of 2013 was $43.2 billion. All U.S. passenger airlines collected a total of $879 million in baggage fees and $735 million from reservation change fees from July through September 2013. Fees are included for calculations of Net Income, Operating Revenue and Operating Profit or Loss (Table 1).

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 third-quarter of 2013 were $38.5 billion, of which $10.9 billion, or 28 percent, was used for fuel costs (Table 1).

Totals for 10 Largest Scheduled Passenger Airlines

The 10 largest scheduled passenger airlines reported an after-tax  net profit of $2.9 billion in the third quarter of 2013, an increase from a profit of $1.4 billion in the third quarter of 2012 (Table 2). The largest airlines carried 80.4 percent of U.S. airlines’ scheduled service passengers in the third quarter of 2013.  See Airline Financial Data Press Releases for historic data.

In addition to the after-tax Net Income reports, the largest airlines reported a $4.2 billion pre-tax operating profit in the third quarter of 2013, up from a $2.4 billion pre-tax operating profit in the third quarter of 2012 (Table 3). 

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 Dec. 11..  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 fourth-quarter 2013 data on May 5.

Table 1. Scheduled Service Passenger Airlines Financial Reports

Reports from 26 airlines in 3Q 2013

(Millions of dollars)

 3Q 20124Q 20121Q 20132Q 20133Q 2013Percent Change 3Q2012-3Q2013
Net Income1,393.7-188.0-395.22,269.03,163.3127.0
Operating Profit/Loss2,642.5556.7587.23,731.54,728.178.9
Operating Revenue41,040.937,116.737,279.741,340.743,221.25.3
Baggage Fee Revenue906.2823.3801.0871.1878.9-3.0
Reservation Change Fee Revenue647.5613.4685.3719.2734.813.5
Operating Expenses38,398.536,559.936,692.637,609.238,493.10.2
Fuel Costs10,975.310,715.910,609.39,883.110,895.9-0.7
Labor Costs9,505.39,038.09,261.79,499.39,777.22.9

Source: Nextstagesolutions, Form 41; Schedules P1.2 and P6

Table 2. Large Airline System (Domestic + International) Quarterly Net Income

Ranked by 3Q 2013 System Passengers

(Net income in millions of dollars)

3Q 2013 Passenger RankAirline3Q 20124Q 20121Q 20132Q 20133Q 2013Dollar Change (in millions) 3Q2012-3Q2013
1Delta1,169.9-20.46.8688.71,371.6201.7
2Southwest*16.178.358.5224.0259.4243.3
3United-25.1-574.3-361.5484.0377.4402.5
4American-256.9270.8-252.8227.8289.8546.7
5US Airways263.346.769.0325.0219.6-43.7
6JetBlue44.30.813.836.470.826.5
7ExpressJet-0.4-3.5-15.4-2.6-5.4-5.0
8SkyWest22.819.014.424.730.57.7
9Alaska160.738.133.9102.2285.3124.6
10American Eagle15.7-88.30.612.513.6-2.1
 10-Carrier Total1,410.4-232.8-432.72,122.72,912.61,502.2

Source: Nextstagesolutions, Form 41; Schedule P1.2

* Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways report financial data jointly but continue separate reporting of passenger data.

Table 3. Large Airline System (Domestic + International) Quarterly Operating Profit/Loss

Ranked by 3Q 2013 System Passengers

(Operating Profit/Loss in millions of dollars)

3Q 2013 Passenger RankAirline3Q 20124Q 20121Q 20132Q 20133Q 2013Dollar Change (in millions) 3Q2012-3Q2013
1Delta1,461.1468.3322.6949.01696.5235.5
2Southwest*50.791.470.2432.7389.7339.0
3United194.8-455.5-259.9771.1510.4315.6
4American26.5-6.047.0478.0682.6656.1
5US Airways261.5109.1102.0476.9420.8159.3
6JetBlue113.045.458.893.3151.738.7
7ExpressJet4.30.0-20.01.2-0.8-5.1
8SkyWest49.242.534.651.259.210.0
9Alaska237.188.482.5189.5285.348.2
10American Eagle24.416.48.512.113.2-11.2
 10-Carrier Total2,422.6399.8446.33,454.94,208.61,786.0

Source: Nextstagesolutions, Form 41; Schedule P1.2

* Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways report financial data jointly but continue separate reporting of passenger data.

Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017
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