American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) released its December operational results on Jan. 11. The company also revealed its 2016 year-end results and updated its fourth-quarter guidance.
Revenue passenger miles at American Airlines in December trended downward. Slight declines in most markets was balanced out by a moderate increase in the regional market. The Pacific market increased its revenue passenger miles but, being the smallest group, the large increase had a small effect on the overall figures. In all, passenger revenue miles in December 2016 declined 0.8 percent compared to the previous year.
A similar story unfolded in American Airlines’s full-year numbers. Small decreases in most markets were buoyed by a 3.9 percent increase in the regional market and a 28.4 percent increase in the small Pacific market. In all, American Airlines added 0.2 percent to its overall 2016 revenue passenger miles.
Available seat miles at American Airlines increased a total of 0.5 percent in December 2016. The only positive growth was found in the Pacific and regional markets. (See also: What is an available seat mile in the airline industry?)
For the full year, American Airlines increased its available seat miles by 1.7 percent. In 2016, only the Atlantic and Latin America markets reported decreased available seat miles. However, the bulk of the growth came, once again, from the Pacific and regional markets.
Load factor at American Airlines was a mixed bag in December 2016. The airline decreased its load factor on its domestic, mainline and regional routes and increased its load factor on its Atlantic, Latin America, Pacific and international routes. Overall, passenger load factor decreased by one point from 81.6 percent to 80.6 percent.
For the full year, passenger load factor fell in all markets but Latin America. American Airlines ended 2016 with a load factor of 81.7 percent. This is down 1.3 points from 2015.
Cargo ton miles at American Airlines increased both in December and in 2016 as a whole. American Airlines had 218.69 million cargo ton miles in December which is a 12.5 percent increase over the previous year. The airline increased its full-year cargo ton miles by 4.7 percent.
American Airlines now expects its fourth-quarter total revenue per available seat mile to be up between zero and two percent. In addition, the airline estimates its pre-tax margin excluding special items to be between seven and nine percent.
Previously, American Airlines had provided guidance in the range of negative one percent to positive one percent growth in fourth-quarter total revenue per available seat mile and a pre-tax margin estimate of between six and eight percent. (See also: American Airlines Updates Q4 Guidance, Announces November Traffic.)
American Airlines is expected to release its fourth-quarter results on Feb. 3.