Top 5 US Airlines Record Over $5 Billion in Profits in Three Months
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
It’s earnings season for the US airlines, and this week each of the top 5 US airlines shared their profits for the July-September Q3 financial period. And there’s a lot to share.
Despite hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes and low-cost carrier competition, the US airlines are still raking in cash. The top 5 airlines combined for over $5 billion in pre-tax profits across the three month period and have earned almost $13 billion in profits so far this year:
|Airline||Q3 Profit||2017 YTD Profit|
Un-audited pre-tax GAAP profits in the millions of US dollars.
This spectacular levels of profits have become the new normal for the airlines, with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker saying in September that he believes AA will never lose money again. This is a spectacular claim when you look at the profitability (or lack thereof) history of the airline, which only netted to $1 billion in pretax profits from 1978-2013 combined:
However, despite historically good profitability, airline executives continue to complain about competition from overseas low-cost carriers and Middle East carriers. In the airline’s earnings call Thursday morning, Doug Parker again ranted about subsidies that the Middle East carriers receive. His claim is that the continued profitability of the airline depends on the Trump administration doing something to fix it.
Delta employees recently claimed that they “could all be out of jobs in a few years” if the Open Skies treaty wasn’t renegotiated. These complaints continue even as ME3 airlines continue to reduce service to the US and the US carriers’ lack of direct competition with the ME3 on any routes.
The positive of all of these profits: Airlines have been investing in their premium products. AA has finally killed off angle-flat seats on transcontinental flights and has started retrofitting aircraft with premium economy. Delta just introduced its first aircraft with the excellent Delta One Suite product. United continues its slow rollout of Polaris seating, with just 14 Boeing 777-300ERs with the product and one of 69 retrofits done:
Similarly, US airlines are upping their ground game. American Airlines is in the midst of rolling out much-improved Flagship Lounges and United’s delay-ridden Polaris lounges should start opening in 2018.
Hopefully steady competition between these airlines will prompt further investment for improvements, rather than airlines just hoarding their profits.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.