The major airlines began reporting third-quarter earnings this week. The third quarter includes a good chunk of the busy summer season. The airlines continue to face high fuel costs. They've raised some fares in response, but still have to offer deals to keep planes full. And both business travelers and leisure travelers face headwinds from slow economic growth and high unemployment.
Here is a summary of earnings reports from AMR Corp., parent of American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines Co.
— Oct. 17. Southwest Airlines posted a profit of 2 cents per share, compared with a loss of 18 cents a year earlier. Revenue was lighter than the company expected. CEO Gary Kelly told CNBC that Southwest saw some "softness" in business travel and that demand weakened in September. It's possible that slowdown is over, however. Kelly said a key measure of revenue is 4 percent higher this month than in October 2011.
— Oct. 16. American Airlines parent AMR Corp. reported a quarterly loss of $238 million due to costs related to its restructuring under bankruptcy protection. But the nation's No. 3 airline said its operating performance was strong. It made more money per passenger and flights were fuller than in any previous quarter. American was plagued by delays and cancellations in September, but said those didn't affect results in any material way. American also said 2,250 of its flight attendants took $40,000 buyout offers to leave the company. It will hire 1,500 flight attendants starting next month because such a large number accepted the buyouts.
United Continental Holdings Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. all report next week. Analysts are expecting a mixed bag, with US Airways posting an increase in profit, United showing a decline and Delta reporting flat earnings per share when special items are excluded.