Delta Economy Comfort, Airline fares up, Free Facebook

Delta Business Class

Delta International Economy Confort
More comfort is coming to an international flight near you. Starting this summer, you'll experience more space, legroom, and recline on our long-haul international flights as we introduce "Economy Comfort"—a new section of seats located at the front of the Economy cabin that will feature up to four more inches of extra legroom and 50 percent more recline.

SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallion level members who purchase an International Economy ticket on Delta will receive free access to Economy Comfort seats. Gold and Silver Medallions, International Economy ticket on Delta receive a 50% and 25% discount, respectively, on applicable Economy Comfort seat fee.

Airlines Do Better in 2010, But Weather Hurts Them
You can’t win for losing in the airline industry. Business last year was the best it’s been since before the 2008 recession, according to a just-released International Air Transport Association report on 2010. But severe weather in the U.S. and Europe put a dent in that recovery, with storms on both sides of the Atlantic shaving an estimated one percent off traffic numbers in December alone.

As a result passenger demand grew just 4.9 percent over December 2009 , significantly lower than the 8.2 percent growth recorded in November. Hardest hit was Europe, which saw December growth slow to 3.3 percent. However, demand for passenger business was up 8.2 percent and load factors were up 2.7 percent. What regions of the world saw the most growth? The Middle East, where business grew 17.2 percent. (Source: IATA press release).

Airfares Go Up
Airfares in the U.S. increased 10.7 percent to $340 in the third quarter, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Newark-Liberty, NJ, had the highest average fare, $469, while Atlantic City, NJ, had the lowest, $153.

That sounds like a healthy jump until you compare today’s fares to those in 2000. When adjusted for inflation, third-quarter 2010 fares in 1995 dollars were $238, down 19.8 percent from the average fare of $297 in the third quarter of 2000, the inflation-adjusted high for any third-quarter since 1995. (Source: DOT press release).

Airlines Expected to Reap Highest Profits in a Decade
AirlineFinancials.com is estimating the eight largest U.S. airlines will report $3.95 billion in profits from $122.2 billion in revenues for year 2010, with their average net profit margin projected at 3.3 percent.

Assuming these projections are accurate, this would be the highest annual profit in more than 10 years and the second highest annual revenue ever reported. It will also be the first time in a decade that the airline industry will have a fourth quarter profit and a profit over three consecutive quarters. All the airlines reported a profit for 2010 and the fourth quarter, except American. The carriers covered include Delta, American, United (including Continental), US Airways, Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska and Air Tran. (Source: AirlineFinancials.com.)

GoGo and Ford Offer You Free Facebook Inflight in February
GoGo Inflight Internet and Ford Motor Company are offering travelers flying on GoGo-equipped aircraft free access to Facebook for February. Participating airlines include AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, United, USAirways and Virgin America.

To use it, turn on your device (after the aircraft is above 10,000 feet), select the GoGo wireless network, open your browser and click on the Ford/Facebook banner. (Source: GoGo press release).

The Front of the Plane is Filling Up
The front of the plane is filling up again, according to the International Air Transport Association. Premium class seats are up 16 percent in the Far East, up 10 percent between Europe and the Far East and up 9 percent on the North Atlantic.

Despite the improvement, premium business is still below late 2007 levels. Mexicana’s bankruptcy continues to have an impact in Central America, where premium travel is down 63 percent. (Source: IATA press release).