U.S. airlines made a net profit of $11.8 billion during 2018, Bureau of Transportation Statistics data shows.
It is the sixth straight year of profit for the industry, but profits are down 23% from 2017, when U.S. airlines cumulatively reported net income of $15.3 billion. The 27.3% increase in the amount airlines paid per gallon of fuel was a major factor in the decline.
Despite higher fuel costs, U.S. airlines realized net profit of $3.2 billion on international service last year, up from $2.1 billion a year earlier. However, profit on domestic operations dropped from $13.2 billion in 2017 to $8.6 billion last year.
Most mainline U.S. carriers are public companies and had already reported 2018 results prior to Monday’s BTS release.
However, the release was the first to reveal the two privately owned mainline U.S. carriers, Frontier and Sun Country, lost money during the fourth quarter of 2018.
Frontier, the much larger of the two, lost $42 million in the fourth quarter, its first loss since the first quarter of 2013. Later that year, current owner Indigo Partners acquired the carrier and transformed it into an ultralow-cost airline.
The loss came despite a 13% jump in operating revenue. Frontier didn’t immediately respond to an email asking what caused an even larger jump in operating costs. The labor deal the carrier recently entered into with its pilots’ union didn’t take effect until January…