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Tue, Apr 14, 2009

Airlines Expect Things To Turn Better By Summer

But First They Have To Swallow Q1 Lumps

We've seen aircraft manufacturers preparing for a recession lasting through late 2010. The Obama administration has sounded cheery by comparison, predicting we'll see a turnaround by the end of this year.

But now, some analysts say we may see an upturn in airline travel by this summer.

The Dallas Morning News reports American Airlines parent AMR Corp. will kick off the earnings season Wednesday with its first-quarter report... and an expected loss of close to $425 million for the time period.

Combined, US domestic passenger airlines are expected lose a combined $2 billion for the three months ending March 31, excluding one-time and special charges. Only low-cost carrier Southwest is expected to eke out a small profit, thanks to a strong January but falling numbers in February and March.

But even starting with that handicap, analysts expect the industry to turn a net profit for the full year.

In a recent report to investors, Robert McAdoo of Avondale Partners commented, "...the level of pessimism in the marketplace seems to be fading. Indications are that things may have bottomed as airlines head into peak travel season."

Among the year-to-year differences which make direct historical comparisons different, a travel spike caused by the Easter and Passover season landed in the first quarter last year, but in April this year.

All told, the consensus among analysts surveyed by the DMN is that March will go down as the low point, and industry profits will total a billion dollars in the second quarter and more than $2 billion for full-year 2009.

FMI: www.aa.com, www.southwest.com

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