Thursday, August 20, 2009

Very Bad Stats for Airlines: July Passenger Numbers Down, Not Just Revenue

Stand by for heavy rolls, as they say in the Navy when the sea gets rough.

We know, of course, that airline revenues have been plunging all year, while the industry tries to buoy itself with fare sales to keep people flying.

But in the primo travel month of July (compared with July 2008), four percent fewer passengers boarded domestic airlines, "despite double-digit declines in fares," the Air Transport Association said.

Revenue for domestic and international flights fell 21 percent in July, the ninth consecutive month in which passenger revenue has fallen from the prior year, the airline trade group said. Average fares -- measured as the price to fly one passenger one mile -- fell 18 percent. In June, the average fare was 21 percent off,compared with June of 2008.

These are very bleak numbers for the airline industry going into the fall season, and the situation is made even scarier for airlines by the confounding creep upward in oil prices. Crude oil closed at about $72 a barrel today.

Something's gonna give.


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