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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

U.S. Airlines 2020 Net Profit Down $35 Billion from 2019

Monday, May 3, 2021

BTS 30-21
BTS Contact: Dave Smallen
david.smallen@dot.gov


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U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reported an annual 2020 after-tax net loss of $35.0 billion, declining after seven consecutive annual after-tax profits and a pre-tax operating loss of $46.5 billion, declining after 11 consecutive annual pre-tax profits.

U.S. airline financial reports are filed quarterly with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). See the tables that accompany this release on the BTS website for additional 2020 annual (Tables 1-6) and fourth-quarter (Tables 7-12) financial results.

Payroll protection payments received by airlines are included as net income. Payroll protection payments used for salaries are included as labor expenses.

2020 Annual Results for All 23 Scheduled U.S. Passenger Airlines

After-tax net income

  • $35.0 billion loss in 2020
  • Compared to $14.7 billion profit in 2019

Pre-tax operating profit/loss

  • $46.5 billion loss  in 2020
  • Compared to $20.7 billion profit in 2019
     
  • Total 2020 operating revenue: $77.3 billion
    Share of total 2020 operating revenue:
    • Fares: $49.9 billion, 64.5%, compared to 74.0% in 2019
    • Baggage fees: $2.8 billion, 3.7%, compared to 2.9% in 2019
    • Reservation change fees: $898 million, 1.2%, compared to 1.5% in 2019

Fees are included for calculations of net income, operating revenue and operating profit or loss.

  • Total operating expenses: $123.8 billion
    Share of total 2020 operating expenses:
    • Fuel: $12.1 billion 9.8%, compared to 18.7% in 2019
    • Labor: $49.1 billion 39.7%, compared to 34.4% in 2019

 

Domestic results for 23 scheduled airlines

After-tax domestic net income 

  • $28.2 billion loss in 2020 
  • Compared to $11.0 billion profit in 2019

Pre-tax domestic operating profit/loss 

  • $39.7 billion loss in 2020 
  • Compared to $15.8 billion profit in 2019
     
  • 2020 domestic operating revenue: $62.4 billion
    Share of total 2020 domestic operating revenue:
    • Fares: $39.9 billion, 63.9%, compared to 71.2% in 2019 
    • Baggage fees: $2.3 billion, 3.7%, compared to 3.0% in 2019 
    • Reservation change fees: $682 million, 1.1%, compared to 1.4% in 2019

Fees are included for calculations of net income, operating revenue and operating profit or loss.

  • 2020 domestic operating expenses: $102.1 billion
    Share of total 2020 domestic operating expenses:
    • Fuel: $9.0 billion, 8.8%, compared to 21.0% in 2019
    • Labor: $39.8 billion, 38.9%, compared to 41.7% in 2019

International results for 18 scheduled U.S. airlines

After-tax international net income

  • $6.8 billion loss in 2020
  • Compared to $3.8 billion profit in 2019

Pre-tax international operating profit

  • $6.8 billion loss in 2020
  • Compared to $5.0 billion profit in 2019
     
  • 2020 international operating revenue: $14.9 billion
    Share of total 2020 international operating revenue:
    • Fares: $10.0 billion, 67.2%, compared to 93.1% in 2019
    • Baggage fees: $510 million, 3.4%, compared to 3.1% in 2019
    • Reservation change fees: $216 million, 1.5%, compared to 1.9% in 2019

Fees are included for calculations of net income, operating revenue and operating profit or loss.

  • 2020 international operating expenses: $21.7 billion
    Share of total 2020 international operating expenses:
    • Fuel: $3.2 billion, 14.7%, compared to 24.3% in 2019
    • Labor: $9.4 billion, 43.1%, compared to 36.8% in 2019

2020 Margins

 Net margin is the net income or loss as a percentage of operating revenue. Operating margin is the operating profit or loss as a percentage of operating revenue.

Systemwide:
Net income margin:

  • -45.3% in 2020
  • Compared to 7.5% in 2019

Operating margin:

  • -60.1% in 2020
  • Compared to 10.6% in 2019

Domestic
Net income margin:

  • -45.2% in 2020
  • Compared to 7.4% in 2019

Operating margin:

  • -63.5% in 2020
  • Compared to 10.6% in 2019

International
Net income margin:

  • -45.9% in 2020
  • Compared to 7.9% in 2019

Operating margin:

  • -45.9% in 2020
  • Compared to 10.4% in 2019

 

4Q 2020 Results for All 23 Scheduled U.S. Passenger Airlines

U.S. scheduled passenger airlines reported a fourth-quarter 2020 after-tax net loss of $7.0 billion and a pre-tax operating loss of $9.7 billion.

These fourth-quarter losses are the fourth consecutive quarterly losses. The airlines reduced their losses in in the fourth quarter from the third quarter. The fourth-quarter after-tax net loss of $7 billion was reduced from the third-quarter loss of $12 billion. The fourth-quarter pre-tax operating loss of $10 billion was reduced from the third-quarter loss of $16 billion.

After-tax net income 

  • $7.0 billion loss in 4Q 2020 
  • Compared to $11.8 billion loss in 3Q 2020
  • Compared to $3.4 billion profit in 4Q 2019

Pre-tax operating profit 

  • $9.7 billion loss in 4Q 2020 
  • Compared to $15.9 loss in 3Q 2020
  • Compared to $4.6 billion profit in 4Q 2019
     
  • Total 4Q 2020 operating revenue: $18.0 billion
    Share of total 4Q 2020 operating revenue:
    • Fares: $10.8 billion, 60.1%, compared to 73.7% in 4Q 2019
    • Baggage fees: $793 million, 4.4%, compared to 2.9% in 4Q 2019
    • Reservation change fees: $99 million, 0.6%, compared to 1.4% in 4Q 2019

Fees are included for calculations of net income, operating revenue and operating profit or loss.

  • Total 4Q 2020 operating expenses: $27.7 billion:
    Share of total 4Q 2020 operating expenses:
    • Fuel: $2.5 billion, 9.2%, compared to 18.2% in 4Q 2019
    • Labor: $10.9 billion, 39.2%, compared to 34.9% in 4Q 2019

 

Domestic operations, includes 23 U.S. airlines:

After-tax domestic net profit (net income

  • $5.7 billion loss in 4Q 2020 
  • Compared to $9.5 billion loss in 3Q 2020 
  • Compared to $2.7 billion profit in 4Q 2019

Pre-tax domestic operating profit 

  • $8.0 billion loss in 4Q 2020 
  • Compared to $13.7 billion loss in 3Q 2020 
  • Compared to $3.7 billion profit in 4Q 2019
     
  • 4Q 2020 domestic operating revenue: $14.8 billion
    Share of total 4Q 2020 domestic operating revenue:
    • Fares: $9.1 billion, 61.4%, compared to 71.3% in 4Q 2019
    • Baggage fees: $634 million, 4.3%, compared to 3.0% in 4Q 2019
    • Reservation change fees: $79 million, 0.5%, compared to 1.3% in 4Q 2019

 Fees are included for calculations of net income, operating revenue and operating profit or loss.

  • 4Q 2020 domestic operating expenses: $22.8 billion, of which:
    Share of total 4Q 2020 domestic operating expenses:
    • Fuel: $1.9 billion, 8.2%, compared to 16.5% in 4Q 2019
    • Labor: $8.7 billion, 38.1%, compared to 34.3% in 4Q 2019

International operations, includes 18 U.S. airlines:

After-tax international net profit (net income

  • $1.2 billion loss in 4Q 2020 
  • Compared to $2.3 billion loss in 3Q 2020 
  • Compared to $691 million profit in 4Q 2019

Pre-tax international operating profit 

  • $1.7 billion loss in 4Q 2020 
  • Compared to $2.3 billion loss in 3Q 2020 
  • Compared to $864 million profit in 4Q 2019
     
  • 4Q 2020 international operating revenue: $3.2 billion, of which:
    Share of 4Q 2020 international operating revenue:
    • Fares: $1.8 billion, 54.5%, compared to 81.8% in 4Q 2019 
    • Baggage fees: $159 million, 5.0%, compared to 2.5% in 4Q 2019 
    • Reservation change fees: $21 million, 0.6%, compared to 1.7% in 4Q 2019 

Fees are included for calculations of net income, operating revenue and operating profit or loss.

  • 4Q 2020 international operating expenses: $4.9 billion, of which:
    Share of 4Q 2020 international operating expenses:
    • Fuel: $680 million, 13.8%, compared to 23.7% in 4Q 2019
    • Labor: $2.2 billion, 44.5%, compared to 36.9% in 4Q 2019

4th Quarter Margins 

Net margin is the net income or loss as a percentage of operating revenue. Operating margin is the operating profit or loss as a percentage of operating revenue.

Systemwide: 
Net income margin: 

  • -38.8% in 4Q2020 
  • Compared to 7.0% in 4Q2019

Operating margin:

  • -54.1% in 4Q2020 
  • Compared to 9.4% in 4Q2019

Domestic
Net income margin: 

  • -38.8% in 4Q2020 
  • Compared to 7.2% in 4Q2019

Operating margin:

  • -54.2% in 4Q2020 
  • Compared to 9.8% in 4Q2019

International
Net income margin: 

  • -38.4% in 4Q2020 
  • Compared to 6.2% in 4Q2019

Operating margin:

  • -53.3% in 4Q2020 
  • Compared to 7.7% in 4Q2019

Reporting notes

Additional data: BTS website, see tables for operating profit/loss, operating revenue and fuel cost and consumption. See the BTS financial databases for more detailed data including numbers for individual airlines.

Filing requirement: By regulation, for the quarter ending Dec. 31, airlines that operate at least one aircraft that is designed/certified for more than 60 seats or the capacity to carry a payload of passengers and cargo weighing more than 18,000 pounds must report financial data to BTS by March 31. The airline filings are subject to a process of quality assurance and data validations before release to the public. 

Data updates: Revised carrier data and late data filings will be made available monthly on TranStats on the Monday following the second Tuesday of the month. All data are subject to revision. BTS will release first-quarter 2021 data on June 14.