Airlines are bracing for what could be a record summer of travel volume. That seems like good news at first glance, but the financial performance of airlines is not only reflective of demand for flights. In fact, it is equally important how efficiently the airlines can service that demand. Staffing has been a persistent problem for carriers and airports alike, despite a large hiring spree in late 2022. Last summer saw significant growth in airport traffic, but a mass of delays and cancellations, which affected a quarter of all US flights, dented airlines’ profitability and stock prices.
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According to the Transportation Safety Administration’s (TSA) airport checkpoint data, the number of airline passengers in the month of April is tracking very closely with pre-pandemic levels. In fact, the number of passengers screened by the TSA has surpassed traffic from the same date in 2019 across 13 of April’s 25 recorded days, thus far. This seems to be very positive news for airlines and the trend is likely building toward a record summer for air travel. As TSA head David Pekoske recently told Bloomberg, US airline passenger levels this summer are projected to be “comfortably above” pre-pandemic numbers.
That lines up well with Delta Airlines’s expectations, as President Glen Hauensteinnoting disclosed in the company’s most recent earnings call that “record advance bookings for the summer” would push Delta’s revenues 15% to 17% higher on capacity growth of 17% YoY. In the first quarter, the airline was selling 81% of available seats, which was up from 75% in 2022. One other key factor mentioned specifically by Hauensteinnoting was international travel. “We’re growing our international seats by more than 20% in the June quarter compared to the prior year, and we already have about 75% of our bookings on hand,” he stated.
JetBlue reported their earnings just yesterday, highlighting record first-quarter revenue of $2.328 billion, up from $1.736 billion a year ago, and just above the FactSet consensus of $2.317 billion. Though the…
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