(Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)
The nation's airline industry continues to rebound from several years of financial calamity, with the top 10 carriers reporting a combined $5.3 billion in profit for 2012.
The latest financial data for the industry, released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, show a slight improvement in several categories over 2011.
Annual profit for the top 10 airlines rose from a combined total of $4.9 billion in 2011, with a profit margin that increased from 3.2% in 2011 to 3.7% in 2012, the latest data show.
Airfares increased by 3% in 2012, from an average of $364 in 2011 to $375 last year, while fuel costs remained relatively stable, rising only 3.28% last year over 2011, according to the federal agency.
The airlines collected $3.5 billion in baggage fees and $2.6 billion in fees for changing or canceling reservations in 2012, up from $3.46 billion in bag fees and $2.4 billion in change fees in 2011.
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Another key statistic -- the percentage of seats filled on each plane -- continued to climb to a record 82.8% in 2012, according to the federal agency.
The good financial news for the industry may continue through 2013, with several travel surveys suggesting Americans plan to travel in greater number for the Memorial Day weekend and this summer.
“Whether they plan to shop, swim or just enjoy the great outdoors, prospects of sunshine and warmer weather have U.S. travelers looking ahead to summer trips,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor, which predicts a 6% increase in travel for Memorial Day and a 7% jump for the summer.
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