Legacy Airlines Get Resourceful

Beaten-down legacy airlines, tired of losing battles to low-fare competitors, are finding ways to win occasionally.


Eclat's numbers also show 10% PRASM improvement by UAL Corp. (UAUA:Nasdaq) unit United Airlines, despite a 1% capacity increase. Top performer AirTran Airlines (AAI:NYSE) showed 11% PRASM improvement despite 24% growth, while Southwest Airlines (LUV:NYSE) also showed growth in both areas. Overall, most legacy carriers continue to have higher absolute PRASM than low-fare competitors.

"The network carriers, through the complexity of their systems and fare rules, and higher fare structures, are achieving better revenue performance," Ford says. "Of course, it's their higher costs that have necessitated those more complicated systems and higher fare structures."

Capacity and PRASM Growth A first-quarter results comparisonAirlineCapacityPRASMUS Airways(-16%)22%America West(-1)15Northwest(-11)13Southwest912AirTran2411American011United110Average010Delta(-9)7Continental105JetBlue272Source: Eclat Consulting



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