Featured image: Rohan Ramalingam/Airways

Snapshot: U.S. Airlines Q1 2024 Financial Performance

DALLAS — The first quarter of 2024 saw mixed financial results for major and regional U.S. airlines.

While some carriers managed to eke out small operating profits, others suffered significant losses, reflecting the aviation industry's ongoing production challenges and uneven recovery among major operators.

The following is a financial snapshot for Q1 2024, based on the data provided by U.S. carriers.

N884AA, American Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner @KLAX. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways

The Big Four

Delta Air Lines (DL) led the pack, posting a modest operating margin of 5.1% and a net margin of 2.3% for Q1 (Rev.US$12.6m Exp.US$12m). American Airlines (AA) also remained marginally profitable, with operating and net margins of 0.6% and -1.8%, respectively (Rev.US$12.6m Exp.US$12.5m). 

United Airlines (UA) rounded out the major U.S. carriers with an operating margin of just under 1%, though its net margin slipped to -0.4% (Rev.US$12.5m Exp.US$12.4m). UA would have achieved a 2.5% operating margin if not for the impact of the Boeing 737-9 grounding.

Finally Southwest Airlines (WN) recorded a -6.0% operating margin and -3.4% net for the quarter (Rev.US$6.3m Exp.US$6.7m).

N17294 United Airlines Boeing 737-8 KFLL FLL. Photo: Alexander Schraff/airways

Regional Carriers

The regional carriers and Alaska/Hawaii segment fared worst in Q1. JetBlue (B6) suffered operating and net margin declines of -7.1% and -6.6% (Rev.US$2.2m Exp.US$2.4m). Alaska Airlines (AS) and Hawaiian Airlines (HA) combined for a -9.9% operating margin.

Alaska's operating margin dropped to -0.6% even with the 0.7% boost from Boeing's compensation following the Flight 1282 door plug blowout incident (Rev.US$2.2m Exp.US$2.4m). HA’s operating margin was -21.7% and its net margin plunged to -22.2% (Rev.US$646m Exp.US$786m).

Alaska Airlines N315AS Boeing 737-900 KLAX LAX

Bottom Line

The Q1 numbers underscore the complex and disparate operating environment airlines continue to face in 2024 as they work to navigate costs, capacity, fluctuating demand, and other variables outside their purview such as the Boeing production quality debacle.

Thanks to Jay Shabat for providing a summary of the Q1 results. Featured image shows DL Boeing 767-300ER N169DZ at ATL.

Pre-order the 2025 Airways Calendar