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Monday, January 12, 2009

Stats Tell ’08 Story

The traffic stats issued last week by the major carriers, some of which included regional programs, foreshadow the impact dramatic capacity cuts on regionals which are expected to begin being reporting this week. 2009 was only the fifth time since 1974, the year DOT began tracking such statistics. December showed an industry-wide decline of 5.2 percent, according to statistics released by the seven largest mainline operators. However, the industry is expected to make further domestic cuts, some as much as another 8-10 percent beyond last year’s cuts.
Revenue Passenger Miles (RPMs) declined 2.3 percent for the mainline carriers led by United with a 6.5 percent drop. Not surprisingly, most carriers touted their load factors in the leads of their releases, in favor of the drops in revenue passenger miles, available seat miles and passenger enplanements. Most capacity purchase operations were down dramatically with the exceptions being relative newcomers Lynx Aviation at Frontier and Compass Airlines at Northwest. United and US Airways did not report regionals separately.
At press time, only Republic Airways Holdings (RJET), American Eagle, Great Lakes and Horizon had reported December and year-end traffic statistics which appear below.

Horizon’s declines were not only double digit but double digit in the twenties. RPMs in December dropped 21.5 percent to 183 million while ASMs declined 21.8 percent to 251 million, reflecting its efforts to streamline its fleet by shedding its CRJs and Dash 8s in favor of the Bombardier Q400. The last of the Dash 8s left in October.
Load factor rose slightly by 0.4 percent to 72.8 percent for the month while enplanements declined 16.5 percent to 532 million. As with its parent company, Alaska Air Group, December’s weather wrought havoc on its on time ratings which were down 13 points to only 53.6 percent. Year to date, RPMs declined 9.7 percent to 2.6 billion while ASMs dropped 9.1 percent to 3.6 billion. Enplanements dropped only 2.1 percent to 7.3 million.
Alaska, meanwhile, shed 5.2 percent of RPMs in December to 1.4 billion on a capacity decline of 10.9 percent to 1.5 billion. Enplanements dropped 11.1 percent to 1,277,000. For the year RPMs dropped 1.4 percent to 18.7 billion while ASMs were flat at 24.2 billion. However, enplanements were down 4.3 percent to16.3 million.

American Eagle
In December, American Eagle reported RPMs down 12.4 percent for the year to 588 billion. ASMs were down 13.5 percent to 837 billion as enplanements declined 11.5 percent to 1,420,851. For the year, RPMs were down 11 percent to 7.9 billion, while ASMs dropped 6.9 percent to 11.2 billion. Enplanements declined 10 percent to 19,102,608.
Meanwhile, its mainline partner incurred equally dramatic declines for RPMs of 8.2 percent and 4.8 percent to 10.3 billion and 131.7 billion for the month and year, respectively. ASMs dropped 8.6 and 3.8 percent to 13.0 billion and 163.4 billion, respectively, while enplanements declined 8.2 percent and 5.5 percent to 7.2 million and 92.7 million, respectively.

Continental Express carriers flew 776 million RPMs last month, a modest decline of two percent. ASMs declined only 0.5 percent to one billion. Express airlines carried 76.9 million passengers in the month down 1.2 percent. Year to date, Express carriers flew 9.8 billion RPMs, up 0.2 percent on a capacity increase of 3.1 percent to 12.9 billion. Passenger enplanements grew slightly to 18 million, up 0.2 percent
In December, Continental flew 6.3 billion RPMs and 7.9 billion and ASMs, resulting in a mainline traffic decrease of 7.3 percent and a mainline capacity decrease of 9.0 percent as compared to December 2007. Domestic mainline traffic was 3.3 billion RPMs in December 2008, down 9.3 percent from December 2007, and domestic mainline capacity was 4.0 billion ASMs, down 12.1 percent from December 2007.
Year to date, mainline RPMs dropped 1.8 percent to 82.8 billion while ASMs declined 0.6 percent to 102.5 billion. Passenger enplanements topped 66.6 million, down 3.2 percent for the year.
For December 2008, consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile (RASM) is estimated to have increased between 3.5 and 4.5 percent compared to December 2007, while mainline passenger RASM is estimated to have increased between 4.0 and 5.0 percent compared to December 2007.

Delta Connection carriers showed the draconian cuts imposed by Delta on its regional carriers last year in an effort to deal with spiking fuel costs. Revenue passenger miles dropped 10.7 percent to 1.2 billion in December and 6.6 percent to 16.9 billion for the year. ASMs took a similar nose dive of 14.4 percent to 1.6 billion last month and 7.9 percent to 21.4 billion for the year. Load factor was down by 3.2 points to 77.5 percent and 1.1 points to 81.5 percent, respectively. Regional flying on the international front shows that more than half of the RPMs (55.4 percent) and ASMs (54.8 percent) have been cut to 21.5 million and 30.4 million, respectively, leaving those statistics at a decline of 5.7 percent to 475 million and 11.2 percent to 626 million, respectively, for the year.
As for Delta, despite its heavy cutting in the fourth quarter, RPMs increased slightly by 0.7 percent to 9.7 billion on a capacity decline of 2.4 percent to 12.2 billion ASMs for the month. For the year the declines were 0.8 and 0.5 percent, respectively, to 123 billion and 151 billion.

Great Lakes
Meanwhile, Great Lakes, which took on new essential air service flying, found itself with a 3.6 percent decline in passenger enplanements in December to 43,576, even as RPMs increase 1.6 percent for the month to 12.3 million and ASMs, reflecting its addition of Embraer Brasilias to its normal fleet of Beech 1900s, jumped 22.2 percent to 31.4 million. As a result load factor dropped by 8 points to 39.2 percent. Revenue per available seat mile, however, rose 4.2 percent to 31.26.
For the year, passengers declined 1.5 percent to 569,844 as RPMs dropped 1.6 percent to 154.6 million on an ASM increase of 13.2 percent to 360.6 million. Load factor declined 6.4 points to 42.9 percent while RASM rose 4.8 points to 31.24 percent.
Great Lakes provides scheduled passenger service at 59 airports in seventeen states for such code-share partners as United Airlines and/or Frontier Airlines.

Lynx, of course, showed dramatic results for its first full year of operation, having entered service in December 2007. RPMs for December shot up 122.6 percent to 30.4 million as did ASMs at 47.8 million, load factor was 63.5 percent and passengers enplaned increased 177.7 percent to 86,458. Yield and PRASM increased 18.3 percent to 23.06 cents and 14.63 cents, respectively.
Meanwhile, Frontier pulled down 9.7 percent of its RPMs for December to 721 million along with 17.5 percent of ASMs to 907 million. Load factor, of course shot up 6.9 percent on a one percent drop in passenger enplanements to 800,609. Yield rose 1.7 percent to 11.75 cents and PRASM rose 11.3 percent 9.34 cents. For the year, RPMs and ASMs dropped 0.1 percent to 9.8 billion and 4.1 percent to 11.9 billion, respectively, passenger enplanements two percent to 10.5 million, yield 0.7 percent to 10.93 cents and PRASM 5.3 percent 8.98 cents.

Delta is still reporting its own and Northwest statistics separately, despite the recent merger with Northwest regionals clearly taking on more flying for the carrier. Regional RPMs increased 56.1 percent for December to 749 million and 47.7 percent for the year to 7.9 billion reflecting the roles Compass and Pinnacle played last year in the carrier’s regional operations which were recuperating from the mainline carrier’s trip into and out of bankruptcy. ASMs jumped 54.3 percent to 992 million for the month and 47.1 percent to 10.5 billion for the year.
Meanwhile, Northwest mainline RPMs dropped 3.6 percent for the month to 6.0 billion and 1.1 percent to 79.2 billion for the year. ASMs declined 4.5 percent to 7.3 billion and 1.2 percent to 94.4 billion, respectively. Passenger enplanements dropped 4.4 percent to five million and 1.3 percent to 65.5 million, respectively.

Bucking the trend, RJET posted a 13 percent growth in revenue passenger miles (RPMs) to 9.7 billion and a 14.7 percent growth in available seat miles (ASMs) to 13.2 billion. It flew 8.9 percent more block hours at 740,243 with a 1.1 point drop in load factor to 73.4 percent. Passenger loads grew by 16.1 percent for 2008 to 18,915,618.
For December, the company generated 783.4 million (RPMs), a 6.2 percent increase over the same month last year, while available seat miles (ASMs) increased 4.1 percent. Block hours, however, were down 3.8 percent year over year to 60,657. Load factor was 70.7 percent versus 69.3 percent in December 2007. A total of 1,507,744 passengers were carried during the month, a 6.1 percent increase from the same month last year.

United reported it flew 11.5 percent fewer RPMs and 12.7 percent fewer ASMs. Passenger enplanements declined 15 percent. Year to date RPMs declined 6.5 percent while capacity dropped 4.5 percent and passenger enplanements declined 7.7 percent.

US Airways
December RPMs declined 1.1 percent on a 6.4 percent drop in capacity. Enplanements declined a modest 0.8 percent. Year to date, the RPM decline was three percent on a 2.2 percent drop in ASMs. Enplanements for the year dropped 5.3 percent.

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