The airline industry has always suffered more than many businesses in ecoomic downturns and recovered faster when things get better. That's happening this summer, with reports by the major carriers that their revenue per available seat mile, or RASM, a key measure, is soaring this summer compared with a year ago.
United was the latest airline to report June RASM was more than 30 percent ahead of June 2009, when traffic was way down, along with fares to many cities. The other big airlines have reported RASM gains for June of 20 percent or more. RASM is watched closely by analysts because it's a measure of their revenue from fares and the percentage of seats sold. Fares fell last year as traffic declined. This year, higher fares and less capacity, or the number of available seats for sale, are combining to provide airlines a badly needed revenue boost.