Featured image: Miles Aronovitz/Airways

In Numbers: U.S. Airline Capacity Trends for Q3 2024

DALLAS — The commercial aviation industry continues to witness dynamic shifts in seat capacity across various airlines and airports for Q3 2024 compared to Q3 2023.

Data provided by Cirium Diio and compiled by aviation analyst Jay Shabat offer a comprehensive look at these changes, unveiling evolving strategies and market responses of major airlines. Here, we break down the key insights.

Boeing 737-800 N818NN American Airlines KMIA. Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways

The Majors

American Airlines

American Airlines (AA) continues to assert its dominance at major hubs:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) leads with 11,052,434 total seats, marking a 6% increase from Q3 2023. This surge underscores Dallas’s importance as a central hub for AA.
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) follows with 8,004,977 seats, also enjoying a 5% rise.
  • Miami International Airport (MIA) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) see moderate increases of 4%.
  • Interestingly, American’s operations at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) experience declines of 2% and 9%, respectively, reflecting strategic adjustments in these markets.

United Airlines

United Airlines (UA) showcases growth at several key airports:

  • Denver International Airport (DEN) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) each have 5,859,819 seats, both up by 5%.
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) sees a 5% increase, highlighting Houston’s critical role in UA's network.
  • In contrast, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) sees a slight 1% decrease, while Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) grow by 11% and 9%, respectively.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines (DL) demonstrates its reach with increases at its primary hubs:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) leads with a whopping 12,501,179 seats, reflecting a 4% increase.
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) and Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) each see a 5% rise, reinforcing Delta’s strong presence in the Midwest.
  • Despite these gains, DL's capacity at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) drops by 2%, indicating a strategic shift.
N8899H, Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX @KSLC. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines (WN) maintains a stable yet slightly declining capacity across its major bases:

  • Denver International Airport (DEN) and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) show minor decreases, highlighting a cautious approach in these competitive markets.
  • Notably, Nashville International Airport (BNA) and St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) see significant increases of 7% and 6%, respectively, suggesting growth in these secondary hubs.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Airways (B6) experiences a mixed performance:

  • New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), their primary hubs, show modest increases of 1%.
  • However, B6 faces substantial declines at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) (-36%) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) (-35%), reflecting possible network realignments or competitive pressures.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines (AS) continues to expand at key West Coast airports:

  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) sees a 3% increase with 4,696,534 seats.
  • Portland International Airport (PDX) grows by 14%, while Anchorage International Airport (ANC) sees a 1% rise.
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO), however, experiences a 6% decline, indicating possible strategic adjustments.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines (HA) holds its presence with its stable capacity:

  • Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) and Maui Kahului Airport (OGG) see minor declines, reflecting a steady demand in these tourist-heavy markets.
N712JB JetBlue Airlines Airbus A320 FLL KFLL combo with Spirit Airlines N672NK A321. Photo: Alexander Shraff/Airways

Low-cost Carriers

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines (NK) experiences varied results:

  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) see double-digit growth, affirming their importance as NK's main hubs.
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO), however, faces a 22% decrease, suggesting a strategic reevaluation.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines (F9) enjoys growth across its network:

  • Denver International Airport (DEN) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) lead with substantial increases of 21% and 39%, respectively.
  • This growth highlights F9's aggressive expansion in these markets.

Breeze Airways

Breeze Airways (MX) also shows notable growth:

  • Charleston International Airport (CHS) and Providence T.F. Green Airport (PVD) see increases of 99% and 79%, respectively.
  • Breeze’s rapid expansion underscores its strategy of connecting underserved markets.
N702VL Avelo Airlines Boeing 737-300 FLL KFLL. Photo: Alexander Shraff/Airways

Avelo Airlines

Avelo Airlines (XP) sees capacity increases:

  • New Haven Tweed Airport (HVN) sees a 44% rise, while Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR) increases by 36%.
  • This growth highlights Avelo’s focus on regional connectivity.

Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air (G4), another with mixed results:

  • Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) grows by 5%, while other airports like Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) see minor declines.

Sun Country Airlines

Sun Country Airlines (SY) continues with its strong performance:

  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) grows by 15%, reinforcing its primary hub status.
N936AK Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 KPHX PHX. Photo: Cgris Goulet/Airways

Overall Industry Trends

The total seat capacity for all U.S. airlines in Q3 2024 increased by 2% compared to Q3 2023, signaling a cautious yet optimistic growth in the airline industry.

Major hubs like Atlanta (ATL), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), and Denver (DEN) see steady increases, while airports like Orlando (MCO) face declines for several airlines.

Summary of Airline Capacity Growth

  • Breeze leads the growth with a staggering 39%.
  • Avelo and Frontier also see significant increases of 8% and 14%, respectively.
  • Conversely, JetBlue and Allegiant face declines of 6%, while Spirit decreases by 5%.

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