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Passenger Traffic High At Logan, But Airline Profits Remain Low

By Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor
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Inside Logan Airport (credit: Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Inside Logan Airport (credit: Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – The passenger numbers for Massport and Logan Airport are good, but the financial numbers for the airlines flying into Boston are not so good.

It’s tough for the U.S. airlines to make money as shown by their first quarter results. Even with seven fare increases since the first of the year, high fuel prices, and the normally low winter passenger loads and bad weather cancellations, profits are hard to come by.

American Airlines showed a first quarter loss, even though passenger traffic was up over nine percent versus last year.

bobweiss Passenger Traffic High At Logan, But Airline Profits Remain Low

Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor

The airline has cut back its Boston flights out of Logan Airport by curtailing service to San Juan, Puerto Rico and San Francisco among other market changes. American has also made the decision not to continue its sponsorship as the Official Airline of the New England Patriots.

One of the problems facing AA is high labor costs. Flight crews were scheduled to hold informational picketing at Logan’s Terminal B yesterday. They have had their salaries cut back while executive compensation has increased.

Of all the airlines serving Logan Airport, only Southwest, the low cost leader, is expected to show a small profit for the first three months of the year. JetBlue, expected to announce its earnings today, will also show a small loss. JetBlue is Boston’s fastest growing airline based on passenger traffic.

March marked the 20th consecutive month that Logan Airport has shown year-over-year growth.

Passenger traffic at the airport grew by 8.3 percent compared to March of last year. 2,407,679 people flew in and out of Boston during March 2011. Logan is on its way to setting all-time high passenger numbers this year.

Total flight operations took a significant jump of 7.2 percent. The only negative numbers in the Massport passenger report reflected a downward trend in international passengers arriving from Europe, which was down 3.2 percent.

In the past two years, Logan has become the number one low-cost airport in New England with Air Tran, Jet Blue, Southwest and Virgin America providing service. Air Tran and Southwest are in merger negotiations.

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