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4th Quarter 2015 Airline Financial Data

Press Release Number: 
BTS 26-16
Date: 
Monday, May 2, 2016
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

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Note: This press release includes revisions to 2014 numbers in Tables 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 as of May 3, 2016. See noted under each table for the revision details.

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reported an after-tax net profit of $25.6 billion in 2015 up from $7.5 billion in 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today (Table 1). 

Figure 1. U.S. Scheduled Service Passenger Airlines Net Income 2011-2015

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Figure 1. U.S. Scheduled Service Passenger Airlines Net Income 2011-2015

As a group, the 25 U.S. airlines that operated scheduled passenger service in 2015 reported an after-tax net profit for the sixth consecutive year.

In addition to the after-tax net profit based on net income reports, the scheduled service passenger airlines reported a $28.0 billion pre-tax operating profit in 2015, up from $14.6 billion in 2014. As a group, the airlines reported a pre-tax operating profit for the seventh consecutive year (Tables 1, 4).

Net income or loss, and operating profit or loss, are two different measures of airline financial performance. Net income or loss may include non-operating income and expenses, nonrecurring items or income taxes. Operating profit or loss is calculated from operating revenues and expenses before taxes and other nonrecurring items.

Total operating revenue for all U.S. passenger airlines in 2015 was $168.9 billion. Airlines collected $126.9 billion from fares, 75.1 percent of total 2015 operating revenue (Table 7).

Total operating expenses for all passenger airlines in 2015 were $140.9 billion, of which fuel costs accounted for $27.0 billion, or 19.2 percent, and labor costs accounted for $45.4 billion, or 32.2 percent (Table 7).

In 2015, passenger airlines collected a total of $3.8 billion in baggage fees, 2.3 percent of total operating revenue, and $3.0 billion from reservation change fees, 1.8 percent of total operating revenue. Fees are included for calculations of net income, operating revenue and operating profit or loss (Table 7).

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.

See airline financial data press releases and the airline financial databases  for historic data.

Annual Totals for Top 10 Scheduled Passenger Airlines

As a group, the top 10 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines, based on operating revenue, reported an after-tax net profit of $24.2 billion in 2015 (Table 2), up from a profit of $7.3 billion in 2014. These airlines carried 81.9 percent of U.S. airlines’ scheduled service passengers in 2015 and accounted for 94.6 percent of the scheduled passenger airline after-tax net profit. 

In addition to the after-tax net income reports, the 10 top airlines reported a $27.3 billion pre-tax operating profit in 2015 (Table 2), up from a $14.2 billion pre-tax operating profit in 2014. 

Annual Margins for All Scheduled Passenger Airlines

All U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reported a combined net income margin of 15.2 percent in 2015, up from a net margin of 4.4 percent in 2014. Net margin measures net income or loss as a percentage of operating revenue. These airlines reported an operating profit margin of 16.6 percent in 2015, up from 8.6 percent in 2014. Operating margin measures operating profit or loss as a percentage of operating revenue (Table 7).

4th Quarter Results for All Scheduled Passenger Airlines

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reported an after-tax net profit of $7.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, down from $9.3 billion in the third quarter and up from $242 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (Table 4). 

Figure 2. U.S. Scheduled Service Passenger Airlines Quarterly Net Income

Table Version | Excel

Figure 2. U.S. Scheduled Service Passenger Airlines Quarterly Net Income

As a group, the 25 U.S. scheduled service airlines reported an after-tax net profit for the eighth consecutive quarter.

In addition to the after-tax net profit based on net income reports, the scheduled service passenger airlines reported a $5.9 billion pre-tax operating profit in the fourth quarter of 2015, down from $8.8 billion in the third quarter and up from $2.0 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014. As a group, the airlines reported a pre-tax operating profit for the 17th consecutive quarter (Tables 4, 6).

Total operating revenue for all U.S. passenger airlines in the October-December fourth-quarter of 2015 was $40.3 billion. Airlines collected $30.0 billion from fares, 74.3 percent of total fourth-quarter operating revenue (Table 8).

Total operating expenses for all passenger airlines in the fourth-quarter of 2015 were $34.4 billion, of which fuel costs accounted for $5.8 billion, or 16.9 percent, and labor costs accounted for $11.4 billion, or 33.3 percent (Table 8).

In the fourth quarter, passenger airlines collected a total of $958 million in baggage fees, 2.4 percent of total operating revenue, and $715 million from reservation change fees, 1.8 percent of total operating revenue. Fees are included for calculations of net income, operating revenue and operating profit or loss (Table 8).

4th Quarter Totals for Top 10 Scheduled Passenger Airlines

As a group, the top 10 U.S. scheduled passenger airlines, based on operating revenue, reported an after-tax net profit of $7.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, down from a profit of $10.8 billion in the third quarter and up from a profit of $239 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (Table 5).

These airlines carried 63.5 percent of U.S. airlines’ scheduled service passengers in the fourth quarter and accounted for 96.7 percent of the scheduled passenger airline after-tax net profit. 

In addition to the after-tax net income reports, the 10 top airlines reported a $5.8 billion pre-tax operating profit in the fourth quarter of 2015, down from a profit of $10.6 billion in the third quarter and up from a $1.9 billion pre-tax operating profit in the fourth quarter of 2014 (Table 6). 

4th Quarter Margins for All Scheduled Passenger Airlines

All U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reported a combined net income margin of 19.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from a net margin of 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Net margin measures the net income or loss as a percentage of operating revenue. These airlines reported an operating profit margin of 14.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Operating margin measures the operating profit or loss as a percentage of operating revenue (Table 8).

Reporting notes

Additional airline financial data can be found on the BTS website, including industry statistics for other individual low-cost and regional airlines. See tables for operating profit/loss, operating revenue and fuel cost and consumption. See the BTS financial databases for more detailed data.

By regulation, for the quarter ending Dec. 31, airlines that operate at least one aircraft that has more than 60 seats or the capacity to carry a payload of passengers, cargo and fuel weighing more than 18,000 pounds must report financial data to BTS by March 31. The airline filings are subject to a process of quality assurance and data validations before release to the public.

Data are compiled from quarterly financial and monthly traffic reports filed with BTS by commercial air carriers. U.S. scheduled passenger airlines are the U.S. airlines that provide scheduled passenger service within the U.S. and between the U.S. and foreign points. Cargo carriers and foreign airlines operating to and from the U.S. are not included.

Financial and traffic data include data received by BTS as of April 20. 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 first-quarter 2016 data on June 20.

 

Table 1. Annual U.S. Scheduled Service Passenger Airlines Financial Reports

Reports from 25 airlines in 2015

(Millions of dollars)

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Dollar Change ($ in Millions) 2014-2015
Net Income 489.6 98.3 12,168.5 7,446.5 25,595.5 18,149
Operating Profit/Loss 5,246.0 6,003.3 11,311.0 14,600.0 27,993.2 13,393
Operating Revenue* 153,293.9 156,470.3 161,596.7 169,276.5 168,874.2 -402
Fares 114,299.4 115,974.8 121,332.9 127,455.4 126,879.5 -576
Baggage Fees 3,392.7 3,449.7 3,350.1 3,529.3 3,813.5 284
Reservation Change Fees# 2,389.5 2,538.2 2,814.1 2,939.9 3,011.8 72
Operating Expenses 148,048.0 150,467.0 150,285.7 154,676.6 140,881.0 -13,796
Fuel 43,754.8 44,901.9 42,628.9 43,431.2 26,976.9 -16,454
Labor 35,377.0 37,195.3 38,042.7 40,770.8 45,385.0 4,614

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Form 41; Schedules P1.2 and P6

* Passenger airline operating revenue includes two other categories. 1) Transport-related is revenue from services which grow from and are incidental to the air transportation services performed by the air carrier. Examples are in-flight onboard sales (food, liquor, pillows, etc), code share revenues, revenues from associated businesses (aircraft maintenance, fuel sales, restaurants, vending machines, etc). 2) Miscellaneous operating revenue includes pet transportation, sale of frequent flyer award miles to airline business partners and standby passenger fees. See the P1.2 database http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295.

#: 2014 Reservation Change Fee numbers and 2014-2015 dollar change for that category were revised on May 3, 2016.

 

Table 2. Annual Large Airline Systemwide (Domestic + International) Net Income, Profits and Revenue

Ranked by 2015 Operating Revenue

(millions of dollars)

Rank Airline Net Income Operating Profit or Loss Operating Revenue Revenue from Fares Percent of Revenue from Fares (%)
1 AA-US Combined 7,895 6,189 41,084 29,173 0.71
2 Delta 4539 7,845 40,816 28,437 0.70
3 United 7,301 5,167 37,864 26,333 0.70
4 Southwest 2181 4,117 19,820 18,347 0.93
5 JetBlue 677 1,198 6,416 5,907 0.92
6 Alaska 829 1,291 5,594 3,961 0.71
7 Hawaiian 193 431 2,313 2,015 0.87
8 Spirit 331 509 2,142 1,267 0.59
9 SkyWest 113 216 1,932 1,876 0.97
10 Frontier 146 276 1,604 1,277 0.80
10-Carrier Total 24,204 27,239 159,585 118,592 0.74
All Passenger Airlines 25,596 27,993 168,874 126,880 0.75

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Form 41; Schedule P1.2 http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295

Note: American and US Airways began combined reporting with 3Q 2015 data. American’s numbers in this table include US Airways’ numbers reported separately from January through June 2015. For US Airways report, see Schedule P1.2 http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295.

 

Table 3. Annual Large Airline Systemwide (Domestic + International) Expense

Ranked by 2015 Operating Revenue

(millions of dollars)

Rank Airline Operating Expenses Fuel Costs Percent for Fuel (%) Labor Costs Percent for Labor (%)
1 AA-US Combined 34,895 6,189 17.7 10,066 28.8
2 Delta 32,971 6,503 19.7 10,445 31.7
3 United 32,697 6,345 19.4 10,014 30.6
4 Southwest 15,704 3,616 23.0 6,689 42.6
5 JetBlue 5,218 1,348 25.8 1,628 31.2
6 Alaska 4,303 808 18.8 1,233 28.6
7 Hawaiian 1,882 416 22.1 526 27.9
8 Spirit 1,632 461 28.3 378 23.2
9 SkyWest 1,716 115 6.7 732 42.6
10 Frontier 1,328 346 26.1 313 23.6
10-Carrier Total 132,346 26,148 19.8 42,023 31.8
All Passenger Airlines 140,881 26,977 19.1 45,385 32.2

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Form 41; Schedule P1.2 http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295

Note: American and US Airways began combined reporting with 3Q 2015 data. American’s numbers in this table include US Airways’ numbers reported separately from January through June 2015. For US Airways report, see Schedule P1.2 http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295.

 

Table 4. Quarterly U.S. Scheduled Service Passenger Airlines Financial Reports

Reports from 25 airlines in 4Q 2015

(Millions of dollars)

  4Q 2014 1Q 2015 2Q 2015 3Q 2015 4Q 2015 Dollar Change 4Q2014-4Q2015
Net Income 242 3,115 5,515 9,268 7,698 7,456
Operating Profit/Loss 1,969 5,096 8,155 8,832 5,894 3,925
Operating Revenue* 40,910 39,135 43,944 45,201 40,343 -567
Fares 30,579 29,416 33,249 34,090 29,976 -603
Baggage Fees 879 864 962 1,019 958 79
Reservation Change Fees# 703 768 773 755 715 12
Operating Expenses 38,941 34,044 35,788 36,370 34,449 -4,492
Fuel 10,950 7,188 7,926 7,071 5,817 -5,133
Labor 10,265 10,366 10,969 11,868 11,449 1,184

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Form 41; Schedules P1.2 and P6

* Passenger airline operating revenue includes two other categories. 1) Transport-related is revenue from services which grow from and are incidental to the air transportation services performed by the air carrier. Examples are in-flight onboard sales (food, liquor, pillows, etc), code share revenues, revenues from associated businesses (aircraft maintenance, fuel sales, restaurants, vending machines, etc). 2) Miscellaneous operating revenue includes pet transportation, sale of frequent flyer award miles to airline business partners and standby passenger fees. See the P1.2 database http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295.

#: 4Q 2014 Reservation Change Fee numbers and 4Q2014-4Q2015 dollar change for that category were revised on May 3, 2016.

 

Table 5. Quarterly Large Airline Systemwide (Domestic + International) Net Income

Ranked by 4Q 2015 Operating Revenue

(millions of dollars)

Rank Airline 4Q 2014 1Q 2015 2Q 2015 3Q 2015 4Q 2015 Dollar Change 4Q2014-4Q2015
1 AA-US Combined 439 808 1,465 1,722 4,552 4,113
  American 178 569 1,052 1,722 N/A N/A
  US Airways 261 239 414 N/A N/A N/A
2 Delta -703 748 1,490 1,319 988 1,690
3 United -9 509 1,193 4,776 824 832
4 Southwest 190 453 608 584 536 346
5 JetBlue 87 137 152 198 190 103
6 Alaska 147 145 228 268 187 40
7 Hawaiian 15 33 50 71 39 24
8 Spirit 58 69 80 103 79 21
9 SkyWest -11 17 31 37 28 39
10 Frontier 25 31 54 29 19 -6
10-Carrier Total 239 2,951 5,352 10,829 7,441 7,201
All Passenger Airlines# 242 3,115 5,515 9,268 7,698 7,456

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Form 41; Schedule P1.2

Note: American and US Airways began combined reporting with 3Q 2015 data. American’s numbers in this table include US Airways’ numbers reported separately from January through June 2015. For US Airways report, see Schedule P1.2 http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295.

#: 4Q 2014 All Passenger Airlines numbers and 4Q2014-4Q2015 dollar change for that category were revised on May 3, 2016.

 

Table 6. Quarterly Large Airline Systemwide (Domestic + International) Operating Profit/Loss

Ranked by 4Q 2015 Operating Revenue

(millions of dollars)

Rank Airline 4Q 2014 1Q
2015
2Q
2015
3Q
2015
4Q
2015
Dollar Change 4Q2014-4Q2015
1 AA-US Combined 840 1,202 1,957 2,003 1,063 223
  American 345 760 1,206 2,003 N/A N/A
  US Airways 495 441 752 N/A N/A N/A
2 Delta -772 1,399 2,477 2,222 1,722 2,494
3 United 626 741 1,446 1,900 1,081 456
4 Southwest 620 780 1,085 1,225 1,026 406
5 JetBlue 161 244 282 350 323 162
6 Alaska 240 238 362 433 258 18
7 Hawaiian 77 72 92 156 111 33
8 Spirit 90 109 112 157 120 30
9 SkyWest -5 37 59 68 52 57
10 Frontier 39 50 88 99 40 1
10-Carrier Total 1,916 4,871 7,962 10,615 5,796 3,880
All Passenger Airlines# 1,969 5,096 8,155 8,832 5,894 3,925

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Form 41; Schedule P1.2

Note: American and US Airways began combined reporting with 3Q 2015 data. American’s numbers in this table include US Airways’ numbers reported separately from January through June 2015. For US Airways report, see Schedule P1.2 http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295.

#: 4Q 2014 All Passenger Airlines numbers and 4Q2014-4Q2015 dollar change for that category were revised on May 3, 2016.

 

Table 7. Jan-Dec U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airlines Revenue, Expenses and Profits

Reports from 25 airlines in 2015

(millions of dollars)

  Jan-Dec 2014 Jan-Dec 2015 $ Change 2014-2015 % Change % of YTD 2015 Revenue or Expense Total
Operating Revenue          
Passenger Fares (scheduled/charter) 127,455.4 126,879.5 -575.9 -0.45 75.13
Cargo 3,078.2 2,890.1 -188.1 -6.11 1.71
Baggage 3,529.3 3,813.5 284.2 8.05 2.26
Reservation Changes 2,939.9 3,011.8 71.9 2.45 1.78
Transport-Related* 28,125.2 27,384.0 -741.2 -2.64 16.22
Other**### 4,148.5 4,895.3 746.8 18.00 2.90
Total Operating Revenue### 169,276.5 168,874.2 -402.3 -0.24 100.00
Operating Expense          
Fuel 43,431.2 26,976.9 -16,454.3 -37.89 19.15
Labor 40,770.8 45,385.0 4,614.2 11.32 32.22
Rentals 8,507.9 8,611.8 103.9 1.22 6.11
Depreciation & Amortization 7,083.0 7,483.4 400.4 5.65 5.31
Landing Fees 2,803.5 2,853.2 49.7 1.77 2.03
Maintenance Materials 2,882.5 2,534.6 -347.9 -12.07 1.80
Transport-Related* 20,711.0 18,172.5 -2,538.5 -12.26 12.90
Other***### 28,486.7 28,863.6 376.9 1.32 20.49
Total Operating Expense### 154,676.6 140,881.0 -13,795.6 -8.92 100.00
Profits or Losses          
Operating Profit 14,600.0 27,993.2 13,393.2 91.73 N/A
Operating Margin**** (%) 8.6 16.6 8.0 N/A N/A
Nonoperating Income/(Expense)# -4,748.1 -4,103.5 644.6 -13.58 N/A
Pre-Tax Income 9,851.9 23,889.8 14,037.9 142.49 N/A
Income Tax Benefit/(Expense) -2,405.5 1,705.7 4,111.2 -170.91 N/A
Other Income/(Expense) 0.0 0.0 0.0 N/A N/A
Net Income 7,446.5 25,595.5 18,149.0 243.73 N/A
Net Margin## (%) 4.4 15.2 10.8 N/A N/A

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Form 41; Schedules P1.2 http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=295 and P6 http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Fields.asp?Table_ID=291

###: 2014 Total Operating Revenue, Other Revenue, Total Operating Expense, Other Expense numbers. dollar change and percent change for those categories were revised on May 3, 2016.

* Transport-Related is revenue/expenses from services which grow from and are incidental to the air transportation services performed by the air carrier. Examples are in-flight onboard sales (food, liquor, pillows, etc), code share revenues, revenues and expenses from associated businesses (aircraft maintenance, fuel sales, restaurants, vending machines, etc).

** Other revenue includes miscellaneous operating revenue (including pet transportation, sale of frequent flyer award miles to airline business partners and standby passenger fees) and public service revenues subsidy.

*** Other expense includes purchase of materials such as passenger food and other materials; and purchase of services such as advertising, communication, insurance, outside flight equipment maintenance, traffic commissions and other services.

**** Operating margin is the operating profit or loss as a percentage of operating revenue

# Nonoperating Income and Expense includes interest on long-term debt and capital leases, other interest expense, foreign exchange gains and losses, capital gains and losses and other income and expenses.

## Net margin is the net income or loss as a percentage of operating revenue.

 

Table 8. Quarterly U.S. Scheduled Passenger Airlines Revenue, Expenses and Profits

Reports from 25 airlines in 4Q 2015

(millions of dollars)

  4Q 2014 4Q 2015 Change 2014-2015 % Change % of 4Q 2015 Revenue or Expense Total
Operating Revenue          
Passenger Fares (scheduled/charter) 30,579.5 29,975.9 -603.6 -1.97 74.30
Cargo### 821.7 710.8 -110.9 -13.50 1.76
Baggage 879.1 957.8 78.7 8.95 2.37
Reservation Changes### 702.7 715.0 12.3 1.75 1.77
Transport-Related* 6,859.9 6,707.3 -152.6 -2.22 16.63
Other**### 1,067.2 1,275.7 208.5 19.54 3.16
Total Operating Revenue### 40,910.1 40,342.5 -567.6 -1.39 100.00
Operating Expense          
Fuel 10,950.1 5,817.2 -5,132.9 -46.88 16.89
Labor 10,264.8 11,449.0 1,184.2 11.54 33.23
Rentals 2,097.9 2,144.2 46.3 2.21 6.22
Depreciation & Amortization 1,824.5 1,916.6 92.1 5.05 5.56
Landing Fees 696.9 694.2 -2.7 -0.39 2.02
Maintenance Materials 737.4 557.1 -180.3 -24.45 1.62
Transport-Related* 4,954.5 4,351.2 -603.3 -12.18 12.63
Other*** 7,415.2 7,519.5 104.3 1.41 21.83
Total Operating Expense 38,941.3 34,449.0 -4,492.3 -11.54 100.00
Profits or Losses          
Operating Profit 1,968.8 5,893.5 3,924.7 199.34 N/A
Operating Margin**** (%) 4.8 14.6 9.8 N/A N/A
Nonoperating Income/(Expense)# -1,735.5 -1,289.7 445.8 -25.69 N/A
Pre-Tax Income 233.3 4,603.9 4,370.6 1,873.38 N/A
Income Tax Benefit/(Expense) 8.9 3,094.7 3,085.8 34,671.91 N/A
Other Income/(Expense) 0.0 0.0 0.0 N/A N/A
Net Income 242.2 7,698.5 7,456.3 3,078.57 N/A
Net Margin## (%) 0.6 19.1 18.5 N/A N/A

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Form 41; Schedules P1.2 and P6

###: 4Q2014 Total Operating Revenue, Cargo Revenue, Reservation Change Fee Revenue and Other Revenue numbers, dollar change and percent change for those categories were revised on May 3, 2016.

* Transport-Related is revenue/expenses from services which grow from and are incidental to the air transportation services performed by the air carrier. Examples are in-flight onboard sales (food, liquor, pillows, etc), code share revenues, revenues and expenses from associated businesses (aircraft maintenance, fuel sales, restaurants, vending machines, etc).

** Other revenue includes miscellaneous operating revenue (including pet transportation, sale of frequent flyer award miles to airline business partners and standby passenger fees) and public service revenues subsidy.

*** Other expense includes purchase of materials such as passenger food and other materials; and purchase of services such as advertising, communication, insurance, outside flight equipment maintenance, traffic commissions and other services.

**** Operating margin is the operating profit or loss as a percentage of operating revenue

# Nonoperating Income and Expense includes interest on long-term debt and capital leases, other interest expense, foreign exchange gains and losses, capital gains and losses and other income and expenses.

## Net margin is the net income or loss as a percentage of operating revenue.