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November US airline traffic grows, capacity expansion slowdown

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November highlights of major US airlines

The US airline industry continued to show strong growth in traffic and capacity in November, and four of the top six US airlines reported positive year-over-year growth in traffic. All airlines except United Continental Holdings (UAL) increased capacity to support the traffic growth. Alaska Air Group (ALK) and JetBlue Airways (JBLU) achieved the highest growth in traffic, capacity, and load factor. Only American Airlines’s (AAL) load factor decreased compared to a year ago.

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

  

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Key highlights

The six major US airlines recorded a 2.6% year-over-year growth in traffic and a 2.2% growth in capacity during the month. November traffic growth was down compared to 2.7% in October, and growth in capacity picked up from 2% in October. Included in the performance overview for the month are six major US airlines: Delta Air Lines (DAL), American Airlines (AAL), United Continental (UAL), Southwest (LUV), JetBlue (JBLU), and Alaska (ALK).

These airlines together account for ~78% of the US domestic market share by revenue passenger miles (or RPMs), and they have a significant impact on the US airline industry as a whole.

US airline trends

Tracking the progress in these airlines provides 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 of the top US airlines in their respective domestic and international markets.

The overview 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, as they 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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