Passenger Numbers Up Internationally
Despite the gloomy financial outlook, more people are flying, according to the International Air Transport Association’s latest figures. Passenger demand rose globally 6.1% in April over April 2011, which is higher than the 20 year average.
Load factors are up, too, since airlines especially U.S. carriers are managing capacity so well. International travel was up the most 7.4 percent. North American carriers saw only a slight increase 1.6 percent, down from a 5.3% increase in March. European air carriers saw a 5.9% growth in passenger demand, which was down from 8.7% in March. The Asia-Pacific region and Middle East Also saw strong growth. (Source: IATA.)
Airline Profits TightenAirlines are getting better at managing capacity and demand, but it’s still tight financially for them. The nation’s ten biggest airlines reported a 1.5% profit margin for the fourth quarter, down 3.2% from a year earlier, according to the Department of Transportation.
Large airlines as a group have reported an operating profit margin in each in the last three quarters. American Airlines, which is the last airline to restructure under bankruptcy, reported a loss, as did United Airlines, which is in the process of merging with Continental Airlines. (Source: DOT)
Paying More for Seats
It could get tougher to avoid getting stuck in that middle seat without paying an extra fee. Some airlines charge you for the ability to pick your own seat. But some of the larger carriers are increasing the number of seats that they’re holding for premium fliers.
This means that on some airlines, you can pay for a seat for more legroom, but you can also pay to get a window or aisle seat or a seat closer to the front of the plane. Airlines are also introducing a new economy class, one that is a little cheaper but gives you even less flexibility when it comes to changing our flight or choosing seats.
Delta Air Lines is doing this on some routes where it competes with the ultra low-cost carrier Spirit Air. (Source: News reports).
Mixed Response to Airline Phone Service
A survey by flight comparison site Skyscanner finds that most passengers oppose airline phone calls, with 86 percent saying it would be annoying.
The survey results followed reports that Virgin Atlantic will offer inflight phone service on A330s flying between New York and London. The service is pricey--$1.60 per minute—and it will only work with certain types of phones. No talking on take off, landing or within 250 miles of the U.S. So much for one of the last sanctuaries from being forced to listen to others’ cell phone conversations. (Source: Skyscanner)
More Long-Haul Service Offered From Washington Reagan
You’ll soon be able to fly transcontinental flights from Washington Reagan International Airport thanks to legislation that authorized new beyond-perimeter slot exemptions allowing some carriers to fly beyond what had been a 1,250-mile route limit out of Washington Reagan.
- Alaska Airlines will fly to Portland, Ore.
- JetBlue Airways to San Juan, P.R.
- Southwest Airlines to Austin, Texas,
- Virgin America to San Francisco.