This and that from the airline industry

Passenger revenues up strongly in May

The Air Transport Association passenger revenues jumped 14.4 percent last month compared to May 2010. That’s the 17th straight money for revenue growth, the trade group said.

“Increased air travel spending in May leading up to the busy summer travel season reflects the recovering economy,” ATA vice president and chief economist John Heimlich said. “A double-digit yield increase with improvements in U.S. domestic and international markets will help the industry cope with stubbornly high energy costs.”

The ATA said passenger miles increased 2.5 percent, and the price that passengers paid to fly one mile increased 11.6 percent.

By areas, revenues on domestic routes increased nearly 14 percent; trans-Atlantic revenues were up 13 percent; trans-Pacific revenues climbed 12 percent, and Latin America and Caribbean revenues jumped 26 percent.

We should point out that May 2010 itself was a strong recovery from the industry depths of 2009. May 2010 revenues soared 21 percent over May 2009.

JetBlue revises its fleet plan

JetBlue Airways announced several steps to revise its plans for acquiring airplanes. It will be increasing its reliance on aircraft from the Airbus A320 family and cut back its plans to acquire Embraer E190s.

It ordered 40 A320neo aircraft, the airplanes with more fuel-efficient engines. Delivery begins in 2017 as the existing A320 order is completed in 2017.

JetBlue converted orders for 30 A320s to the larger A321, while keeping 22 A320 orders. It deferred A320 deliveries in 2014 and 2015 to 2017. Its new airplanes beginning in 2013 will have winglets, and it will retrofit its existing A320s with winglets.

It said it will limit its Embraer E190 fleet to 75 airplanes. It currently operated 46 of those airplanes, three arriving this year and orders for 46 more coming between now and 2018, plus options for an additional 65.

JetBlue will work with Embraer officials to find homes for the approximately 25 aircraft that it has ordered but now doesn’t want.

JetBlue officials said on a conference call that as its routes mature, it increasingly needs the larger airplane, the 150-seat Airbuses, rather than the 100-seat Embraers.

Mystery buyer for Bombardier C series

Pratt & Whitney announced at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday that its geared turbofan engines “will power 10 firm and up to 6 option CS100 CSeries aircraft ordered by an undisclosed major network carrier.”

The Bombardier CSeries is a very fuel efficient airplane of 100 to 149 seats, fitting it in the space between regional jets under 100 seats and larger narrow-body jets like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737s family.

Korean Air announced Tuesday that it was buying 10 CS300s with an option for 10 more and purchase rights for 10, so that doesn’t fit the bill.

In the Korean announcement, Bombardier alluded to orders from “a well-established, unidentified airline (three CS100 aircraft) and a major network carrier (10 CS100 aircraft),” without further identifying them.

Why the Airbus A380 won’t be doing demo flights at the Paris Air Show

Airbus brought an A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, to Paris to do demo flights. But there’ll be no such flights, as Airbus explained Monday:

“During ground maneuvers with the Airbus A380 flight test aircraft MSN 004, the aircraft’s right hand wing-tip touched a structure near the taxiway ”Victor” at Le Bourget airport at 15:50 local time.

“Airbus experts are currently inspecting the aircraft, but it is already confirmed that the A380 MSN 004 will not perform the flying display at the Le Bourget Air Show 2011.”

Fitch raises Delta’s outlook to ‘positive’

Fitch Ratings didn’t raise Delta’s “B” “Issuer Default Rating” (IDR), but improved its outlook from “stable” to “positive” Tuesday.

Said Fitch:

“An upgrade in the IDR to ‘B’ could follow later in 2011 or next year if DAL remains on track to de-lever in line with its plan to reduce lease-adjusted debt by an additional $3.5 billion by the second half of 2013. This would likely require a leveling off of fuel prices or a decline in jet fuel to less than $3.00 per gallon in coming quarters.

“A return of the Rating Outlook to Stable could follow if a sharp follow-on fuel price spike or revenue shock undermines DAL’s FCF outlook in 2012.”

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