Major U.S. airlines kicked off earnings season with mixed results last week, highlighting the headwinds facing an industry that generates $175 billion in annual revenue, but keeps just 2 cents of every dollar as profit.
With margins that tight, saving pennies a gallon on fuel or trimming capacity to cut costs is often the difference between profit and loss in this capital-intensive, highly regulated industry.
Those were among the themes as four major U.S. carriers — Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), United Continental (NYSE:UAL), US Airways (NYSE:LCC) and Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) — reported earnings last week. Not surprisingly, some carriers posted a better report card than others. Here’s a quick recap: