- Higher fuel and other costs are biting airline profits in the third quarter.
- American and Spirit joined Alaska and Southwest in cutting profit estimates for the summer.
American said it expects adjusted earnings per share to come in between 20 cents and 30 cents in the third quarter, down from a previous forecast of as much as 95 cents a share, citing more expensive fuel and a new pilot labor deal. The carrier halved its operating margin from a forecast earlier this summer to 4% to 5%.
Spirit Airlines expects negative margins of as much as 15.5% in the three months ending Sept. 30, down from an earlier estimate of -5.5% to -7.5%. The budget airline also cut its revenue forecast for the third quarter.
Airlines have lost the pricing power they commanded last summer when capacity was more constrained coming out of the Covid pandemic, even though demand has been strong.
Now they face what is traditionally a slower travel demand period. Frontier Airlines warned Wednesday that "in recent weeks, sales have been trending below historical seasonality patterns," and forecast an adjusted loss for the quarter.
Shares of American, Spirit and Frontier fell Wednesday. Frontier's stock hit a new 52-week low.
Fare-tracking company Hopper on Tuesday said it expects fares to continue dropping in the fall shoulder season, with domestic U.S. tickets averaging $211 in September and October, down 30% from the peak of summer.
Airlines start reporting third-quarter results in mid-October.