Airline Financial Data

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4th Quarter 2015 Airline Financial Data

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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 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 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   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’ 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

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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 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 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’ 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 , and . See the BTS 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 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)

 20112012201320142015Dollar Change ($ in Millions) 2014-2015
Net Income489.698.312,168.57,446.525,595.518,149
Operating Profit/Loss5,246.06,003.311,311.014,600.027,993.213,393
Operating Revenue*153,293.9156,470.3161,596.7169,276.5168,874.2-402
Fares114,299.4115,974.8121,332.9127,455.4126,879.5-576
Baggage Fees3,392.73,449.73,350.13,529.33,813.5284
Reservation Change Fees#2,389.52,538.22,814.12,939.93,011.872
Operating Expenses148,048.0150,467.0150,285.7154,676.6140,881.0-13,796
Fuel43,754.844,901.942,628.943,431.226,976.9-16,454
Labor35,377.037,195.338,042.740,770.845,385.04,614

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 .

#: 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)

RankAirlineNet IncomeOperating Profit or LossOperating RevenueRevenue from FaresPercent of Revenue from Fares (%)
1AA-US Combined7,8956,18941,08429,1730.71
2Delta45397,84540,81628,4370.70
3United7,3015,16737,86426,3330.70
4Southwest21814,11719,82018,3470.93
5JetBlue6771,1986,4165,9070.92
6Alaska8291,2915,5943,9610.71
7Hawaiian1934312,3132,0150.87
8Spirit3315092,1421,2670.59
9SkyWest1132161,9321,8760.97
10Frontier1462761,6041,2770.80
10-Carrier Total24,20427,239159,585118,5920.74
All Passenger Airlines25,59627,993168,874126,8800.75

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 .

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

Ranked by 2015 Operating Revenue

(millions of dollars)

RankAirlineOperating ExpensesFuel CostsPercent for Fuel (%)Labor CostsPercent for Labor (%)
1AA-US Combined34,8956,18917.710,06628.8
2Delta32,9716,50319.710,44531.7
3United32,6976,34519.410,01430.6
4Southwest15,7043,61623.06,68942.6
5JetBlue5,2181,34825.81,62831.2
6Alaska4,30380818.81,23328.6
7Hawaiian1,88241622.152627.9
8Spirit1,63246128.337823.2
9SkyWest1,7161156.773242.6
10Frontier1,32834626.131323.6
10-Carrier Total132,34626,14819.842,02331.8
All Passenger Airlines140,88126,97719.145,38532.2

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 .

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

Reports from 25 airlines in 4Q 2015

(Millions of dollars)

 4Q 20141Q 20152Q 20153Q 20154Q 2015Dollar Change 4Q2014-4Q2015
Net Income2423,1155,5159,2687,6987,456
Operating Profit/Loss1,9695,0968,1558,8325,8943,925
Operating Revenue*40,91039,13543,94445,20140,343-567
Fares30,57929,41633,24934,09029,976-603
Baggage Fees8798649621,01995879
Reservation Change Fees#70376877375571512
Operating Expenses38,94134,04435,78836,37034,449-4,492
Fuel10,9507,1887,9267,0715,817-5,133
Labor10,26510,36610,96911,86811,4491,184

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 .

#: 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)

RankAirline4Q 20141Q 20152Q 20153Q 20154Q 2015Dollar Change 4Q2014-4Q2015
1AA-US Combined4398081,4651,7224,5524,113
 American1785691,0521,722N/AN/A
 US Airways261239414N/AN/AN/A
2Delta-7037481,4901,3199881,690
3United-95091,1934,776824832
4Southwest190453608584536346
5JetBlue87137152198190103
6Alaska14714522826818740
7Hawaiian153350713924
8Spirit5869801037921
9SkyWest-111731372839
10Frontier2531542919-6
10-Carrier Total2392,9515,35210,8297,4417,201
All Passenger Airlines#2423,1155,5159,2687,6987,456

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 .

#: 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)

RankAirline4Q 20141Q
2015
2Q
2015
3Q
2015
4Q
2015
Dollar Change 4Q2014-4Q2015
1AA-US Combined8401,2021,9572,0031,063223
 American3457601,2062,003N/AN/A
 US Airways495441752N/AN/AN/A
2Delta-7721,3992,4772,2221,7222,494
3United6267411,4461,9001,081456
4Southwest6207801,0851,2251,026406
5JetBlue161244282350323162
6Alaska24023836243325818
7Hawaiian77729215611133
8Spirit9010911215712030
9SkyWest-53759685257
10Frontier39508899401
10-Carrier Total1,9164,8717,96210,6155,7963,880
All Passenger Airlines#1,9695,0968,1558,8325,8943,925

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 .

#: 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 2014Jan-Dec 2015$ Change2014-2015 % Change% of YTD 2015 Revenue or Expense Total
Operating Revenue     
Passenger Fares (scheduled/charter)127,455.4126,879.5-575.9-0.4575.13
Cargo3,078.22,890.1-188.1-6.111.71
Baggage3,529.33,813.5284.28.052.26
Reservation Changes2,939.93,011.871.92.451.78
Transport-Related*28,125.227,384.0-741.2-2.6416.22
Other**###4,148.54,895.3746.818.002.90
Total Operating Revenue###169,276.5168,874.2-402.3-0.24100.00
Operating Expense     
Fuel43,431.226,976.9-16,454.3-37.8919.15
Labor40,770.845,385.04,614.211.3232.22
Rentals8,507.98,611.8103.91.226.11
Depreciation & Amortization7,083.07,483.4400.45.655.31
Landing Fees2,803.52,853.249.71.772.03
Maintenance Materials2,882.52,534.6-347.9-12.071.80
Transport-Related*20,711.018,172.5-2,538.5-12.2612.90
Other***###28,486.728,863.6376.91.3220.49
Total Operating Expense###154,676.6140,881.0-13,795.6-8.92100.00
Profits or Losses     
Operating Profit14,600.027,993.213,393.291.73N/A
Operating Margin**** (%)8.616.68.0N/AN/A
Nonoperating Income/(Expense)#-4,748.1-4,103.5644.6-13.58N/A
Pre-Tax Income9,851.923,889.814,037.9142.49N/A
Income Tax Benefit/(Expense)-2,405.51,705.74,111.2-170.91N/A
Other Income/(Expense)0.00.00.0N/AN/A
Net Income7,446.525,595.518,149.0243.73N/A
Net Margin## (%)4.415.210.8N/AN/A

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

###: 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 20144Q 2015Change2014-2015 % Change% of 4Q 2015 Revenue or Expense Total
Operating Revenue     
Passenger Fares (scheduled/charter)30,579.529,975.9-603.6-1.9774.30
Cargo###821.7710.8-110.9-13.501.76
Baggage879.1957.878.78.952.37
Reservation Changes###702.7715.012.31.751.77
Transport-Related*6,859.96,707.3-152.6-2.2216.63
Other**###1,067.21,275.7208.519.543.16
Total Operating Revenue###40,910.140,342.5-567.6-1.39100.00
Operating Expense     
Fuel10,950.15,817.2-5,132.9-46.8816.89
Labor10,264.811,449.01,184.211.5433.23
Rentals2,097.92,144.246.32.216.22
Depreciation & Amortization1,824.51,916.692.15.055.56
Landing Fees696.9694.2-2.7-0.392.02
Maintenance Materials737.4557.1-180.3-24.451.62
Transport-Related*4,954.54,351.2-603.3-12.1812.63
Other***7,415.27,519.5104.31.4121.83
Total Operating Expense38,941.334,449.0-4,492.3-11.54100.00
Profits or Losses     
Operating Profit1,968.85,893.53,924.7199.34N/A
Operating Margin**** (%)4.814.69.8N/AN/A
Nonoperating Income/(Expense)#-1,735.5-1,289.7445.8-25.69N/A
Pre-Tax Income233.34,603.94,370.61,873.38N/A
Income Tax Benefit/(Expense)8.93,094.73,085.834,671.91N/A
Other Income/(Expense)0.00.00.0N/AN/A
Net Income242.27,698.57,456.33,078.57N/A
Net Margin## (%)0.619.118.5N/AN/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.

Updated: Friday, December 15, 2017
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