Airline news: Oil cost, wifi & Tarmac delays down

Delta Airlines

U.S. Airline Revenues Are Up—But Oil Costs Hurt
Passenger revenues for U.S. carriers were up 13% in February, the latest figures available from the Air Transport Association, marking the 14th consecutive month of revenue growth for a core group of U.S. airlines.

Miles flown by paying passengers were up 2.1%, while the average price to fly one mile rose 10.8%. International markets remained especially strong, with passenger revenue growing 17%, led by a 27% increase in Pacific revenue. Domestic revenue grew 11.5%, fueled in large part by a 10.5% increase in yield. Figures are based on data from seven major U.S. carriers and 20 regional carriers. (Source: ATA press release).

Air Traffic is Up, But Still Below Pre-Recession Levels
Air traffic was up 2.9% in December 2010 over December 2009 according to the latest figures from the Department of Transportation.

The December 2010 passenger total was 2.1% above that of two years ago in December 2008 but still remained 3.6% below the pre-recession level of 60.8 million in December 2007. The number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines increased 2.4% in 2010 over 2009 to 720.4 million. The number of passengers declined 3% from the full year 2008 to the full year 2010. U.S. airlines carried 2% more domestic passengers and 5.9% more international passengers in the full year 2010 than in 2009.

In December, Southwest Airlines carried more total system and domestic passengers than any other U.S. airline. (Source: Department of Transportation).

Triple Digit Oil Prices Could Crimp Business Travel Growth—But Not Stop It
Short-term oil price spikes might slow business travel growth but shouldn’t stop it, according to a study by the Global Business Travel Foundation. It found that because business travel pays off, companies will continue to invest in it even if rising fuel costs make travel more expensive.

Even if oil hits $200 per barrel, business travel and the number of trips taken would continue—although high oil prices would hurt the rate of projected business travel growth over time. (Source: GBTA press release).

No Tarmac Delays of Longer Than Three Hours In February
No airline passengers sat on the tarmac for more than three hours in February, down from 60 flights in February 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

February was the tenth full month of data since a new rule prohibiting carriers from keeping planes on the tarmac for more than three hours went into effect. Large parts of the country saw severe weather during February, and airlines canceled 4.9 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, compared to 5.4 percent in February 2010 and 3.9 percent in January 2011.

The number of canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours increased only slightly, from 289 between May 2009 and February 2010 to 331 between May 2010 and February 2011. There were 19 canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours in February 2011, down from 21 in February 2010. (Source: DOT).

United Continental Expands Wi-Fi Service to More Than 200 Aircraft
United Continental Holdings, Inc., is adding Wi-Fi service to more than 200 domestic Boeing 737 and 757. It’s using LiveTV’s Ka-band technology, which offers offer higher transmission speeds for more extensive onboard connection capabilities, including browsing content-rich websites, sending and receiving e-mails and downloading files. The airline will start offering the new service next year. Right now, United offers in-flight Wi-Fi on 14 aircraft. (Source: United Continental Holdings press release).