According to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, the airline industry may never “lose money again.”
Parker made the bold statement while speaking at American's Media and Investor Day on Thursday, adding, "I don't think we're ever going to lose money again. We have an industry that is going to be profitable in good or bad times. We have an airline that is going to be profitable in good or bad times."
Parker’s statement may not just be wishful thinking: American Airlines had a net income of $2.6 billion in 2016.
As Travel Weekly noted, the entire aviation industry saw a huge profit boom once larger corporations began merging with smaller ones to create supergroups of airline companies. Today, the site noted, just four airlines — United, American, Delta, and Southwest — dominate domestic travel.
Beyond the mergers, airlines across the world have also been able to see a huge increase in profits thanks to the unbundling of ticket fares. As Travel + Leisure previously explained, by unbundling ticket prices passengers will get a lower basic fare, however, they will have to pay extra for checked bags, changing flights, or even the use of overhead bins. If you’re an airline, that's great. If you’re a passenger, it just means in order to save you must be really, really sure the flight you choose is the flight you want and always pack as light as possible.
Because of these mergers, bundles, and the low price of fuel, Parker added that he believes American can make upward of $5 billion per year in pre-tax profit every year going forward.
Beyond sharing their massive profit projections, American did offer a glimmer of hope for passenger comfort, including the fact that it will roll out a Premium Economy cabin for long-haul flights on its widebody fleet. This section will feature additional legroom, more service options, and further recline than coach.