Airlines Are Fullest They´ve Been Since 1945
U.S. airlines had an average load factor of 82.8% last year, their highest since 1945, according to the latest figures from the Department of Transportation.
Load factors were even higher for domestic flights, averaging 83.4%. In addition, U.S. airlines carried 0.8 % more total system passengers in 2012, 736.6 million, than in 2011.
And the biggest carrier, when measured by number of passengers carried, was Delta Air Lines, carrying more system passengers than any other. It was the third year in a row that Delta hit this metric. Southwest Airlines carried more domestic passengers than any other airline for the ninth year in a row. United Airlines, its merger with Continental now complete, carried the most international passengers. (Source: DOT press release).
AA Tests Giving Priority Boarding to Passengers Who Check Bags
American Airlines is giving passengers who check their bags prioritized boarding in a test in four markets, letting them board between groups one and two.
Higher load factors and passengers’ desire to save on baggage fees and to skip the wait at the baggage carousel have made dealing with carry-on bags more time-consuming for airlines.
Flight attendants often urge passengers to quickly stow their bags in order to have an on time departure. In addition, flight attendant unions are reporting increased injuries among flight attendants and passengers from hoisting heavy bags into overhead bins or from improperly stowed bags falling out. American is testing the priority boarding in Austin, Washington Dulles Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale. (Source: American Airlines, industry interviews).
FAA Continues to Examine Changing Policies on Inflight Reading Devices
A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman would not comment on press reports that the Federal Aviation Administration might allow passengers to read their Kindles or Nooks during take-off. However, the spokesman did confirm that the FAA’s Portable and (PED) Advisory and Rulemaking Committee is continuing to examine policies for using cell phones, electronic readers and tablets on planes and will end deliberations in July.
The FAA actually allows airlines to decide what can and can’t be used right now on planes, but the FAA provides guidance on those policies. The current guidance requires passengers to turn everything off below 10,000 feet. The committee is not looking at cell phone use, which is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission. The committee has more than two dozen members, who include representatives of the FAA, Amazon, airlines, pilot and flight attendant unions, aircraft manufacturers, the FCC, the consumer electronics association and others. (Source: FAA interview).
IATA Forecasts Bigger Profits for Airlines in 2013
The latest financial forecast from the International Air Transport Association projects larger industry profits in 2013 for most airlines around the globe than it had estimated in December.
Tony Tyler, IATA´s director general and CEO, credited the improvement to optimism for the global economy. “Passenger demand has been strong and cargo markets are starting to grow again,” he said. IATA said that it expects North American airlines to make a $3.6 billion profit, which is slightly ahead of the $3.4 billion IATA originally projected for the year and well above the $2.3 billion profit reported in 2012.
Other regions were reporting smaller profits–$800 million in Europe, $1.4 billion in the Middle East, $600 million in South America and $100 million in Africa. IATA said that the recovery could be derailed by factors such as the continuing Eurozone crisis, specifically naming what it called the draconian bailout proposal for Cypriot financial institutions.
Tyler pointed out that travel demand has been supported by robust growth in emerging markets, reflecting a longer-term shift in the center of gravity in the industry. (Source: IATA press release).