The latest airlines financial data continues to show that industry profitability improved in Q1 2018 relative to the same period a year ago. The pick-up in industry-level performance was driven by a turnaround for European airlines.
Nonetheless, investor concerns about the impact of rising fuel prices on future airline financial performance saw global airline share prices fall for the fourth month in a row in May. The global airline share price index has now fallen by 8.5% since the start of the year, continuing to underperform the global equity market.
Oil prices climbed again in May, driven by tighter market supply and ongoing geo-political tensions. At the time of writing the Brent crude oil price is currently sitting around US$76/bbl – almost 60% higher than a year ago.
The seasonally adjusted trends in passenger and freight demand have continued to diverge. All told, while the industry-wide passenger load factor has continued to set new record highs in seasonally adjusted terms in recent months, the corresponding freight load factor has fallen back to levels last seen at the start of 2017.
The premium cabin’s share of international passenger revenues fell to 30.6% in Q1 2018, from 31.1% a year ago. Nonetheless, the cabin continues to provide an important buffer for airline financial performance.