There was a firm 5.7% increase in revenue passenger miles (RPMs) in 2016, the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) announced, with available seat miles (ASMs) growing by 6%. Most of the growth occurred in second quarter 2016 with robust traffic on trans-Pacific routes, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The stock prices of major airline groups also grew, especially from December 2016 to May 2017. The New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) Arca Airline Index (XAL), which tracks the performance of major US and overseas airlines, increased by 9.27%.
The number of US aviation M&As also picked up as the industry became more competitive, with airlines seeking companies with which to form strategic alliances and partnerships. The most notable acquisition in 2016 was that of Virgin America by Alaska Airlines, creating the fifth largest US airline and the largest West Coast airline.