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BTS releases 3rd-Quarter 2010 airline financial data

Network and low-cost airlines report profits

Network airlines’ profit margin in the third quarter of 2010 was the highest since the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) began issuing quarterly airline financial numbers in 2002 while the low-cost carriers’ profit margin was the second highest, BTS reported today in a release of preliminary data.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the network airlines reported an operating profit margin of 10.5 percent as a group in the July-to-September period, their second profit since the third quarter of 2009. The low-cost group’s profit margin of 11.0 percent was surpassed only by an 11.2 percent profit margin in the third quarter of 2003. The low-cost group last reported a loss margin in the third quarter of 2008. See Airline Financial Data Press Releases for historic data.

Regional airline data are not included in this quarter’s press release because of incomplete data.

As part of their third-quarter revenue, the airlines collected $906 million in baggage fees and $590 million from reservation change fees from July to September.

Total third quarter 2010 airline revenue from all ancillary sources that can be identified, including fees and frequent flyer sales was $2.1 billion, with Delta Air Lines reporting the highest total, $693 million.

Baggage fees and reservation change fees are the only ancillary fees paid by passengers that are reported to BTS as separate items. Other fees, such as revenue from seating assignments and on-board sales of food, drink, pillows, blankets, and entertainment are reported in a different category with other items and cannot be identified separately.

The combined baggage and reservation change fees from passengers combined with ancillary revenue from other sources constituted 5.8 percent of the total revenue of the 26 carriers that reported receiving ancillary revenue. Spirit Airlines reported the largest percent of operating revenue from ancillary sources of any carrier, 26.9 percent.

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