October performance highlights

The US airline industry continued to show strong growth in traffic and capacity in October. The major US airlines recorded 2.7% growth in traffic and 2% growth in capacity during October 2014. Included in the performance overview for the month are six major US airlines: Delta Airlines (DAL), American Airlines (AAL), United Continental (UAL), Southwest (LUV), JetBlue (JBLU), and Alaska (ALK). These airlines account for ~78% of the US domestic market share by revenue passenger miles (or RPMs) and have a significant impact on the entire US airline industry.


US airlines increase capacity in October to meet growing demand 

Key highlights

  • Traffic for all six US airlines increased year over year, signaling a strong growth in demand for air travel.
  • All six airlines increased capacity to support their traffic growth.
  • Only Delta (DAL), Southwest (LUV), and JetBlue (JBLU) showed improvements in load factor. United (UAL), American (AAL), and Alaska (ALK) reported lower utilization in October 2014 compared to the previous year.

More details on each carrier’s traffic, capacity, and utilization growth will follow in the remainder of this series.


Tracking the progress in these airlines will provide a broad perspective of current trends in the US airline industry. The overview includes growth trends in important indicators including traffic, capacity, and capacity utilization for each of the top US airlines in their respective domestic and international markets. It also provides a summary of the operational performance in terms of on-time arrivals, customer complaints, and baggage mishandling trends of each airline for the month. For an update on 3Q14 performance of these airlines, refer to Must know: 3Q earnings for all major US airlines.

ETFs are important investment vehicles that provide a diversified portfolio of stocks. The iShares Transportation Average ETF (IYT) and the SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN) invest a major portion of their holdings in airline stocks.

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