U.S. airlines were able to improve their financial performance during the first quarter of 2013, according to a report released by industry trade organization Airlines for America (A4A) on Thursday.
Airlines still reported a combined loss of $552 million for the first three months of the year, but that's compared to a loss of $1.7 billion during the same period in 2012. The first quarter 2013 loss breaks down to a loss of $3.30 per passenger.
"This quarter reflected a marked recovery over last year’s results," said John Heimlich, vice president of A4A. “A return to profitability enables airlines to reinvest in customer service and operational efficiency, including improved airport facilities, expanded in-flight offerings and enhanced baggage systems.”
For the airlines reporting first quarter results, the combined operating revenue was $34.3 billion, a year over year increase of 2.5 percent. Airlines spent nearly $12 billion on jet fuel during the first quarter, which remains the industry's largest operating expense.
The group is projecting a busy upcoming summer travel season as U.S. airlines are projected to carry up to 27 million passengers internationally, an all time record.
The report projects airlines based in the United States will carry up to 209 million total passengers domestically and internationally between June and August, which would be the highest number since 2008, when more than 210 million passengers traveled to and from destinations within the United States.
A4A attributes the estimated passenger numbers to rising corporate profits and recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics showing the average price of domestic airfare at $374, which it considers a "bargain" when adjusted for inflation in recent years.
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