This week’s 130-plus page issue of PlaneBusiness Banter is now, finally, posted!
This week we take a full in-depth look at the third quarter earnings and the recent earnings calls from American Airlines, US Airways, Southwest Airlines, United/Continental, and Delta Air Lines.
We also have earnings summaries for JetBlue, AirTran, and Alaska Air Group. (We’ll take our more in-depth look at both JetBlue and Alaska in next week’s issue of PBB.)
Our general take on what we heard in the calls from the five airlines we talk about this week?
First of all, the fact that the airlines that have reported so far have reported such strong numbers should not have come as a surprise. I was somewhat “shocked” myself to see someone referenced in a story about the results last week talking about the “shock and awe” of the profits reported.
We all knew it was going to be a great quarter. And there is no reason why the fourth quarter is not going to be a good one either.
Anyway, so much for people who don’t know that much about the industry, eh?
Speaking of, I liked some comments that US Airways CEO Doug Parker made on the topic of consolidation in that airline’s call last week. As he correctly pointed out, it’s probably time to stop asking the question of when or if. “Consolidation has happened.” Yes, it has.
And, as he pointed out, that is one reason the industry in the U.S. is doing as well as it is. With fewer players out there, it is finally allowing the players who are there to pick up some pricing power. Yes, less capacity doesn’t hurt either.
But as Avondale analyst Bob McAdoo said in a research note recently, by eliminating duplicate flying and creating new traffic flows, the United/Continental merger reminds him of why he likes mergers. He then went on to list a slew of route changes that the new combined airline has already loaded in his note.
Listening to the Delta Air Lines call, one would have to be a total dufus not to see how the merging of those two airlines has created one airline that is doing a lot of things a whole lot better. The airline especially shone on the revenue side.
As for Southwest, there’s no question the airline posted nice profit numbers for the quarter, but I talk more this week about why the airline continues to frustrate those of us who have been waiting for the airline to move forward on several key infrastructure or product items. CEO Gary Kelly and Avondale analyst Bob McAdoo had an interesting back and forth on this topic at the end of that airline’s call.
And then there is American Airlines. The good news? The airline finally posted a quarterly profit. The not-so-good news? It wasn’t that big of a profit. The airline’s earnings call was not the best in the world either this quarter. We talk more about all that this week as well.
As for the folks at US Airways — the airline posted a very strong quarter. A record-breaking quarter, as was the case with more than one of the airlines last week. While the outlook for revenue upticks is going to slow down as the airline moves into 2011 (tougher comps coming up), that is basically true for most airlines, so I don’t see that as a major deal breaker here. Operationally, the airline is running one of the most efficient airlines out there these days.
As always, all this and more, including some feedback from my column last week on the change in command at ALPA national, a brief rundown on the AirTran results, and other miscellaneous dribs and drabs.
Subscribers can access the issue here. (Just a warning. If you print this issue out, it’s going to run very, very, long.)