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Largest Airlines Report Profit For 3rd Quarter 2012
By Daniel Baxter

December 17, 2012 - The largest scheduled passenger airlines reported a 6.4 percent profit margin in the third quarter of 2012, down from 6.8 percent in the third quarter of 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today in a release of preliminary data. 

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the 10 largest airlines, as ranked by total number of passengers in the third quarter, achieved an operating profit margin as a group in each of the last six quarters.  

Together, they posted a profit of $2.4 billion with all of the large carriers reporting an operating profit. These 10 airlines carried 77.5 percent of U.S. airlines' scheduled service passengers in the third quarter of 2012. 


The top 10 airlines reported $1.4 billion in Net Income in the second quarter Net Income and Operating Profit or Loss are two different measures of airline financial performance. Operating Profit or Loss is calculated from operating revenues and expenses. Net Income may include non-operating income and expenses, nonrecurring items or income taxes. 

As part of their third-quarter revenue, all U.S. passenger airlines collected a total of $924 million in baggage fees and $652 million from reservation change fees from July through September 2012. Fees are included for calculations of Net Income, Operating Revenue and Operating Profit or Loss. 

Baggage fees and reservation change fees are the only ancillary fees paid by passengers that are reported to BTS as separate items. Other fees, such as revenue from seating assignments and on-board sales of food, beverages, pillows, blankets, and entertainment are combined in different categories and cannot be identified separately. 



Data are compiled from quarterly financial and monthly traffic reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers. Financial and traffic data are preliminary and include data received by BTS as of December 6.  Revised carrier data and late data filings will be made available monthly on TranStats on the Monday following the second Tuesday of the month. All data are subject to revision. BTS will release fourth-quarter data on May 14.

Large Airline System Quarterly Operating Profit/Loss Margin (In Percent)

Large Airline System Quarterly Net Income

Large Airline System Unit Costs

Large Airline System Unit Revenue

Large Airline System Passenger Revenue Yield

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