Almost all major domestic airlines had passenger declines in 2009 with a few exceptions, most notably Southwest Airlines, jetBlue and Allegiant Air. AirTran, Alaska Airlines, Continental, jetBlue and Southwest all had higher year-on-year performance in terms of demand as measured by revenue passenger miles.
Load factors increased at the majority of domestic airlines because most of them cut capacity by at least the same amount as the decrease in demand. For Southwest, load factors went from 71.2% in 2008 to 76% in 2009; other carriers showed load factors for the year of between 79% and 82%; Allegiant was the exception, breaking 90% for the first time.
More than 120 new routes have been announced by U.S. airlines for the first half of 2010, according to anna.aero; 14 have already been launched.
Among the larger carriers, Southwest will bring 27 new routes; American, 22; and Delta, 17. Most of the new service will be domestic or to the Caribbean, but some will go abroad, such as Delta’s services to Abuja, Accra and Lagos, Africa; American’s Beijing, China, service from Chicago, Ill., and Madrid, Spain, service from New York City, N.Y.; United’s service from Chicago to Brussels, Belgium; US Airways flights from Charlotte, N.C., to Rome, Italy; and Continental’s flights from Newark, N.J., to Munich, Germany.