United Airlines AFA MEC Website

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA United Master Executive Council

Four Largest U.S. Carriers Cut Capacity In 2012

Date: January 12, 2013
Type: Media Article

Source: Dallas News
Author: Terry Maxon

With JetBlue Airways' filing of its December and full year traffic on Friday, we've got all the big carriers reporting. Here are some observations:

The four largest carriers – United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines – all operated less capacity in 2012 than in 2011. The next five carriers increased their capacity.

United, the world's largest airline, saw its margin in traffic over No. 2 Delta shrink. In 2011, it led Delta by 13.48 billion  revenue passenger miles. In 2012, the lead dropped to 9.85 billion. Put another way, it was 8 percent larger than Delta in 2011, 5.8 percent larger in 2012.

In capacity, United had a lead of 15.99 billion available seat miles in 2011, 15.48 billion in 2012. United was 7.9 percent larger than Delta in capacity in 2011, 7.7 percent in 2012.

You may have noticed that the gap shrank more quickly in traffic than capacity. That would indicate that Delta was showing better results on load factor.

In fact, Delta's load factor went up 1.7 points to 84.4 percent. United's went up 0.1 points to 82.9 percent. (United was 0.1 point ahead of Delta in 2011, 1.5 points behind in 2012.)

Overall for U.S. carriers, traffic in revenue passenger miles and absolute passengers increased only about 1 percent in 2012 over 2011.

Capacity in available seat miles was up less, 0.2 percent, helping the carriers show a 0.7 percentage point increase in load factors, to 83.0 percent.

Here are the charts for the U.S. airlines that we have in hand. Traffic is thousands of revenue passenger miles; capacity is thousands of available seat miles. We put full year results first, followed by December's results.

Full year

Traffic                                                  2012                2011           Change
Alaska                                          24,417,000     22,586,000                8.1%
Allegiant                                        6,220,320        5,314,976              17.0%
American                                   126,350,862    126,443,353               -0.1%
Delta                                          169,562,740    168,282,394                0.8%
Frontier                                        12,108,734      12,899,243               -6.1%
Great Lakes                                      169,929           162,893                4.3%
Hawaiian                                     12,217,635      10,151,216              20.4%
Horizon                                          2,090,000       2,131,000               -1.9%
JetBlue                                         33,563,177      30,697,903                9.3%
Republic minus Frontier                  8590069          8062205                6.5%
SkyWest                                      30,088,278     29,109,039                3.4%
Southwest                                  102,874,979    103,864,488               -1.0%
United                                       179,415,806    181,763,454               -1.3%
US Airways                                 64,880,446      63,077,319                2.9%
Total                                          772,549,975    764,545,483               1.0%

 

Capacity                                               2012                2011           Change
Alaska                                          28,180,000     26,517,000                6.3%
Allegiant                                        6,954,408        5,797,753              20.0%
American                                   152,547,989    154,254,350               -1.1%
Delta                                          200,851,060    203,449,949               -1.3%
Frontier                                        13,773,708      15,036,619               -8.4%
Great Lakes                                      397,160           370,376                7.2%
Hawaiian                                     14,687,472      12,039,937              22.0%
Horizon                                          2,669,000       2,726,000               -2.1%
JetBlue                                         40,075,196      37,232,367                7.6%
Republic minus Frontier              11,571,934      11,191,105                3.4%
SkyWest                                      37,278,554     36,698,859                1.6%
Southwest                                  128,137,684    128,518,201               -0.3%
United                                       216,330,246    219,436,755               -1.4%
US Airways                                 77,510,211      75,755,251                2.3%
Total                                          930,964,622    929,024,522               0.2%

 

Load factors                                         2012                2011           Change
Alaska                                                 86.6%              85.2%                   1.5
Allegiant                                              89.4%              91.7%                  -2.2
American                                             82.8%              82.0%                   0.9
Delta                                                    84.4%              82.7%                   1.7
Frontier                                                87.9%              85.8%                   2.1
Great Lakes                                         42.8%              44.0%                  -1.2
Hawaiian                                             83.2%              84.3%                  -1.1
Horizon                                               78.3%              78.2%                   0.1
JetBlue                                                83.8%              82.4%                   1.3
Republic minus Frontier                      74.2%              72.0%                   2.2
SkyWest                                              80.7%              79.3%                   1.4
Southwest                                           80.3%              80.8%                  -0.5
United                                                 82.9%              82.8%                   0.1
US Airways                                         83.7%              83.3%                   0.4
Total                                                   83.0%             82.3%                   0.7 

December

Traffic                                                  2012                2011           Change
Alaska                                            2,105,000       1,941,000                8.4%
Allegiant                                           569,483           502,639              13.3%
American                                     10,464,385      10,232,734                2.3%
Delta                                            13,037,698      12,823,623                1.7%
Frontier                                             933,164        1,040,748             -10.3%
Great Lakes                                        12,080             14,054             -14.0%
Hawaiian                                       1,095,269           892,269              22.8%
Horizon                                             179,000          170,000                5.3%
JetBlue                                           2,867,642        2,703,140                6.1%
Republic minus Frontier                   751,130           651,950              15.2%
SkyWest                                        2,441,508       2,404,227                1.6%
Southwest                                      8,174,930        8,195,341               -0.2%
United                                         14,133,815      14,734,668               -4.1%
US Airways                                   5,182,069        5,091,575                1.8%
Total                                            61,947,173      61,397,968               0.9%

Capacity                                               2012                2011           Change
Alaska                                            2,440,000       2,220,000                9.9%
Allegiant                                           662,583           566,271              17.0%
American                                     12,971,383      12,659,469                2.5%
Delta                                            15,631,380      15,715,017               -0.5%
Frontier                                          1,069,737        1,219,821             -12.3%
Great Lakes                                        31,851             29,854                6.7%
Hawaiian                                       1,371,367        1,077,262              27.3%
Horizon                                             226,000          216,000                4.6%
JetBlue                                           3,578,250        3,371,201                6.1%
Republic minus Frontier                   991,551           931,519                6.4%
SkyWest                                        3,046,921       3,062,892               -0.5%
Southwest                                    10,479,165      10,454,875                0.2%
United                                         17,084,679      18,018,838               -5.2%
US Airways                                   6,264,350        6,251,676                0.2%
Total                                            75,849,217      75,794,695               0.1%

Load factors                                         2012                2011           Change
Alaska                                                 86.3%              87.4%                  -1.2
Allegiant                                              85.9%              88.8%                  -2.8
American                                             80.7%              80.8%                  -0.2
Delta                                                    83.4%              81.6%                   1.8
Frontier                                                87.2%              85.3%                   1.9
Great Lakes                                         37.9%              47.1%                  -9.1
Hawaiian                                             79.9%              82.8%                  -3.0
Horizon                                               79.2%              78.7%                   0.5
JetBlue                                                80.1%              80.2%                   0.0
Republic minus Frontier                      75.8%              70.0%                   5.8
SkyWest                                              80.1%              78.5%                   1.6
Southwest                                           78.0%              78.4%                  -0.4
United                                                 82.7%              81.8%                   1.0
US Airways                                         82.7%              81.4%                   1.3
Total                                                 81.67%           81.01%                   0.7

Unit revenues
Allegiant                                      -6% to -7%
AMR                                                   +1.6%
Delta                                                      +4%
JetBlue                                                   +2%
Southwest                                               Flat
United Continental                     +2.5 – 3.5%
US Airways                                           +4%

All news stories

top of page