Green shoots for American aviation

America’s aviation heavyweights have reported their passenger numbers for June, with improvements in transatlantic traffic suggesting the green shoots of a recovery could be appearing.

Passenger numbers at Delta, the world’s largest airline in market capitalisation, fell 4.6% year-on-year to 14.89m in June. But encouraging signs that the transatlantic market may have bottomed out, with loads rising 0.5 percent to 85.6%.The story was similar for Southwest, the world’s largest airline in passenger numbers. Traffic fell 2.1% in June compared to June 08, a smaller decline than a month before, when traffic dropped 3.6%, hinting that the bottom may have been reached. Meanwhile the load factor rose 1.3% to 79.5%.

American Airlines fared worse, with June passengers falling 9.3% to 7.62m, with traffic 8.1% lower. Capacity was down 7.8%, depressing load factor by 0.3pp to 85.1%. But, like Delta, transatlantic loads were steady, up 0.8% year-on-year to 84%.

A 7.8% capacity cut by Continental helped transatlantic loads rise 1.9% to 83.3%, and overall loads also improved, up 1.1% to 84.8%. Passenger number fell to 5.67m passengers last month, a year-on-year decline of 7.7%.

United posted a 6.3% decrease in June passenger numbers to 7.43m. Transatlantic loads were marginally lower - down 0.4% to 87.2%. Traffic was 7.5% lower on capacity down 8%, resulting in a 0.5% increase in load factor to 85.9%. However, Atlantic loads fell 0.4pp to 87.2%.