Airlines Post Best Profits Since 2006

Fares may be down a tad, but the airlines aren’t complaining. Their after-tax net profit for the third quarter of 2015 was the highest since the first quarter of 2006.

Fares may be down a tad, but the airlines aren’t complaining. Their after-tax net profit for the third quarter of 2015 was the highest since the first quarter of 2006.

According to the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the U.S. airlines as a group netted $9.3 billion in the third quarter of 2015, versus $5.5 billion in the second quarter of 2015 and $3.1 billion in the third quarter of 2014. Net profit margin for the quarter was a hefty 20.5 percent.

Operating expenses for the period totaled $36.4 billion, including $11.9 million in labor costs (32.6 percent of the total) and $7.1 billion for fuel (19.4 percent).

Among the many fees imposed by the airlines, the DOT only collects data on baggage and reservations-change fees. From the former, airlines banked $1.0 billion (2.3 percent of total operating revenue); and for the latter, revenue totaled $755 million (1.7 percent).

Bottom line: Business is booming and the airlines are raking it in.

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.