• 03.01.10

Uncommon Indicator: Metaphors Concerning Airline Industry Soaring

This is your Upswing captain speaking: Please expect less turbulence and higher earnings in the flying business this year.

There are certain industries wherein good news about rocketing profits, higher earnings, an economic landscape once more taking off and the metaphors about such industries are one and the same.


Take the airline business. And take this headline about how the airline business’ engines are really revving up, after more than a year of hardship (airports, not so much). That’s right, things are looking up for airlines of all sizes and services. According to one study revenues for all passenger-carrying planes were up 1.4% this past January compared with a year earlier. And another report predicts that first-quarter revenues could increase 9% when all is said, done, booked, packed and traveled.

If ever there was a pure indication that the average American is feeling better about their future financial situation, this may very well be it. No one has to fly, after all, unless it’s for work and if more people are flying more often for work and that’s helping these numbers rise, well then that’s just additional proof of a strengthening economy. At least one economist suggests, even, that there is less business travel than ever, due primarily to improvements in video conferencing (See Up in the Air for examples of the peril of video meetings in certain contexts.)

That’s not to say that flying folks are simply throwing their money around. They’re not; passengers are still bargain hunting, and that’s reflected in the steep climb in traffic for cost-cutting flyers like Southwest and JetBlue in January, to the tune of 8.3% and 5.9%, respectively.

In addition to the sunnier financial forecast, there are other reasons the airline business is taking off. The aforementioned Clooney-fest Up in the Air, for example, was like a 107-minute ad for American Airlines, which certainly didn’t hurt buff the image of a sector desperately in need of some new shine. And anecdotally, having flown recently with my wife and two young kids, I can report that those working for airlines are once more making efforts to seduce passengers, rather than leave them steamed and grounded. They sure were nicer! (The odd famous film director, not withstanding.) Oh, and I should mention that when it comes to New York City’s JFK airport, pretty much none of this good stuff applies. On my recent trip I flew out of La Guardia and it was relatively painless.

[Via: Los Angeles Times]

Image: Ho-Yeol Ryu