In the second quarter of 2006 United reported net income of $111 million on revenue of $5.1 billion. $97 million of that — 87% — was from “United Loyalty Services,” primarily the Mileage Plus frequent flyer program.
In the third quarter of 2006 United reported net income of $220 million on revenue of $5.2 billion. $112 million of that — 51% — was from United Loyalty Services.
It’s reasonable to say that United’s frequent flyer program drives its profitability (though it’s certainly possible for the airline to lose enough money that even its frequent flyer program couldn’t make up the difference).
Meanwhile, Air Canada’s Aeroplan frequent flyer program (which is a separate publicly traded entity) saw
- its third-quarter profit jumped 77 percent as it sold more Aeroplan Miles through its commercial partners.
Aeroplan earned C$34.3 million ($30.4 million), or 17 Canadian cents a trust unit, up from year-earlier C$19.4 million, or 10 Canadian cents a unit.
Here is my previous post on the importance of airlines selling miles for their bottom-lines.