U.S. airlines cancel flights, hotels book up before hurricane

NEW YORK, Mon Oct 29, 2012 –  Hurricane Sandy will likely cause financial headaches for U.S. airlines that canceled more than 7,000 flights to and from the Northeast corridor on Sunday.

Hotels in the region were busy handling cancellations for guests who could not get to destinations in the Northeast, extending stays for guests who could not leave town, and booking rooms for people who left their homes.

Airlines started cancelling flights in the U.S. Northeast region Sunday evening as cities from Washington D.C. to Boston braced for floods and high winds from the hurricane, which was expected to make landfall in the next few days.

According to Flightaware.com, more than 7,100 flights had been canceled by 9 p.m. on Sunday due to Sandy. Airlines waived fees for people who have to change travel plans because of the grounded flights.

In New York City, the timing of flight cancellations like US Airways, was determined by the city’s decision to start shutting down its mass transit systems at 7 p.m. as passengers would have no way to get to and from the airport.

U.S. Airways said it would likely have to cancel close to 2,000 flights because of the storm, starting at 7 p.m. Sunday. The airline said it expects to resume flights on Tuesday, but noted that flooding and the storm’s duration could cause additional delays.

The airline also said it would move planes from the hurricane zone to try to avoid damage. Repositioning those planes after the weather clears could cause additional delays.

Transportation consultant George Hamlin estimated that Sandy could cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

U.S. airlines had profitable third-quarter, but growth concerns loom

WASHINGTON, Fri Oct 12, 2012 – U.S. airlines are expected to report solid profits for the third quarter, thanks to steady demand and fuel prices that declined toward the end of the period, but signs of slowing growth could spell challenges for the rest of the year.

Unit revenue – a measure of how much airlines can charge for tickets and how full planes are – decreased at many carriers in September. In addition, the number of passengers boarding planes at most big U.S. airlines fell, as travel started its seasonal slowdown in the month.

“The revenue environment appears to be softening a bit,” said Ray Neidl, an aerospace analyst with Maxim Group. “People will be looking to see if these trends continue into the fourth quarter.”

The earnings reports kick off next week, with AMR Corp.’s American Airlines reporting on Wednesday, followed by Southwest Airlines Co. on Thursday.

The third quarter is traditionally strong for airlines as it includes the benefit of some summer travel. Among the five major U.S. airlines, all are expected to report profits. AMR, currently undergoing restructuring in bankruptcy, is expected post its first profit after seven quarters of losses.

Southwest profit beats estimates on higher fares, demand

DALLAS, Thu Jul 19, 2012 – Southwest Airlines Co. beat analysts’ estimates with a 42-percent rise in quarterly profit on Thursday, helped by higher fares and robust demand despite a fragile U.S. economy.
U.S. airlines have merged, raised ticket prices and shown discipline in cutting back flights to match demand in a bid to return to stability over the past two years.
“Southwest and the rest of the airlines are really focusing in on the routes that are higher-yielding and more profitable, and as a whole that has helped the industry,” said Matthew Jacob, an airline analyst with ITG Investment Research.
Analysts said Southwest, which is looking to maintain its dwindling low-cost advantage against rivals that have restructured, made progress in controlling costs in the quarter.
Southwest, which acquired discount rival AirTran Holdings last year, said second quarter net income was $228 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with $161 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items, profit was 36 cents a share, higher than analysts’ expectations of 32 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.