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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: American Airlines Group, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, United Continental and Delta Air Lines

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 14, 2016 – announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include American Airlines Group (AAL), Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV), JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU), United Continental Holdings (UAL) and Delta Air Lines ( DAL).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Airline Stock Roundup

The past week saw heavyweights in the airline space like American Airlines Group (AAL), and Southwest Airlines Co. ( LUV) revealing their traffic numbers for the month of March. As was the case in February, March traffic numbers from major carriers like JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU) saw a decline in load factor (% of seats filled with passengers) as capacity expansion outweighed growth in traffic.

The traffic reports apart, United Continental Holdings’ (UAL) announcement of not proceeding with its previous plan to buy slots from Delta Air Lines ( DAL) at the Newark Liberty International Airport, grabbed headlines. By virtue of this move, the Chicago-based carrier has called off efforts to expand its already strong position at Newark.

Read the last Airline Stock Roundup for Apr 06, 2016 .

Recap of the Past Week’s Most Important Stories

1. United Continental has retracted on its plans to expand further at the Newark Liberty International Airport, thereby vindicating the stance of the U.S. Justice Department. United Continental’s decision to call off its purchase agreement with Delta follows the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision, announced on Apr 1, 2016, to lift controls over the number of takeoffs/arrivals per hour at Newark (read more: United Continental to No Longer Buy Newark Slots from Delta ).

On a separate note, United Continental’s March traffic numbers were disappointing with all 3 important metrics viz. capacity, air traffic and load factor declining. Moreover, the carrier’s forecast with respect to passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM: a key measure of unit revenue) for the first quarter of 2016 is also disappointing (read more: United Airlines March Traffic Falls, Q1 PRASM Likely to Drop ).

2. Southwest Airlines announced strong traffic numbers for March 2016 with revenue passenger miles (RPMs: a measure of air traffic) improving 6.2% on a year-over-year basis to 10.9 billion. Available seat miles (ASMs: a measure of capacity) climbed 6.1% to 12.9 billion. The carrier still expects operating revenue per ASM (RASM: a key measure of unit revenue) to be flat on a year-over-year basis in the first quarter of 2016 (read more: Southwest Airlines March Traffic Up, RASM View Maintained ).

3. Traffic at American Airlines Group climbed 3.3% with capacity expanding 3.8%. Load factor declined 40 basis points to 81.7% in Mar 2016. The carrier expects PRASM to decline in the band of 7% to 8% in the first quarter of 2016 (read more American Airlines March Traffic Up, Q1 PRASM View Soft ).

4. In line with its efforts to better customer service, low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways announced that it intends to expand its premium “Mint” service to include key destinations along the West Coast.

On the traffic front, the carrier announced a 12.1% increase in its March air traffic on a 12.5% capacity expansion. Load factor declined 40 basis points to 86.8% as capacity expansion outweighed traffic growth. March 2016 PRASM at the Long Island City, NY carrier declined approximately 7% on a year-over-year basis.

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AMER AIRLINES (AAL): Free Stock Analysis Report
SOUTHWEST AIR (LUV): Free Stock Analysis Report
JETBLUE AIRWAYS (JBLU): Free Stock Analysis Report
UNITED CONT HLD (UAL): Free Stock Analysis Report
DELTA AIR LINES (DAL): Free Stock Analysis Report
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