Airline industry performance solid, IATA says

American Airlines Boeing 787

The financial performance of the airline industry has “remained solid” with initial results for the third quarter (Q3) showing large profit improvements in major regions, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The association gave details in its Airlines Financial Monitor for September-October, where it sampled the finances of 23 carriers.

IATA explains: “Airline financial performance has been improving overall so far this year. An initial sample of 23 airlines shows the industry financial performance improved significantly on the year ago period in Q3 2015.

“The increase was driven by North American airlines, where consolidation and lower fuel costs have resulted in a significant boost to profitability. Airlines in Asia Pacific and Europe were up on a year ago, supported by cost-cutting measures and easing fuel cost pressure.”

The carriers sampled saw a combined net post-tax profit of $13.7 billion in Q3, more than double the $6.1 billon in Q3 2014. Eight North American airlines saw a net post-tax profit of $8.8 billion, up on the $2.7 billion in Q3 last year. Six in Asia Pacific saw a profit of $984 million, up from $786 million. In Europe, the seven sampled had a $3.8 billion profit, up on $2.6 billion. Two airlines in Latin America  saw a profit of $21 million, up on a $33 million loss.

IATA says freight load factors remain at low levels not seen since mid-2009 at 43.6 per cent so far this year, but capacity continues to impact carriers and it went up in September compared to August, expanding by 0.6 per cent.

“Looking over the past several months, the trend in AFTK (capacity) growth has been strongly positive for much of 2015, in contrast to developments in demand volumes,” IATA explains.

Volumes were up in September compared to August after months of decline. “The improvement was narrowly based driven mostly by European airlines and the demand backdrop remains fragile due to weakness in emerging markets,” IATA says.