Whoa, lookit these operating numbers from the major airlines, all of which have now reported in on their November traffic:
Folks, people simply ain't flying. At least not anywhere near the way they used to.
United Airlines had a 17 percent drop in revenue miles flown in November, compared with November 2007. It was minus 14.5 percent for American; minus 10.7 percent for Continental and so on down into the high minus single digits for the rest of the mainline carriers.
The discount carriers that mostly fly domestic routes were all also off significantly: Minus 8.3 percent for Southwest; minus 7.8 percent for JetBlue.
Capacity -- reported as available seat miles -- was down across the board (except for Southwest, where capacity was basically the same as November 2007). But across the board, the capacity declines were exceeded by the traffic declines.
In other words, air travel is in a great big slump -- just as airlines (ya just can't catch a break, guys and gals in the airline business, and I feel your pain) are looking at the bonanza of under-$50-a-barrel oil.
Watch carefully for those fare sales, because more of them are coming.
Meanwhile, airline stocks remain in the tank because Wall Street doesn't have much faith in air-travel demand. Then again, what the hell does Wall Street know about anything.