(Reuters) - Major airlines on Monday said demand for flights seemed to be holding up despite concerns that automatic U.S. spending cuts and rising taxes would hurt travel.
Delta Air Lines
Unit revenue, a key measure that represents passenger revenue per available seat mile, is expected to rise between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent in the first period, Delta added. It said results were being aided by corporate market share gains and better performance on European routes.
"Our corporate revenues in the first two months of this year are up 8 percent despite the fact that our overall flying levels are down 5 percent," Delta President Edward Bastian said.
Southwest Airlines Co
Chief Financial Officer Tammy Romo said March bookings looked "solid" for Southwest despite concerns that the effects of automatic U.S. spending cuts known as sequestration, and rising consumer income taxes, would hurt demand.
"At least so far, trends seem to be holding up," Romo said.
U.S. airlines have merged, cut unprofitable routes and raised ticket prices to recover in recent years. Carriers have also created new revenue streams with baggage and food fees.
Shares of major airlines rose on Monday, with Delta and United Continental
US Airways Chief Executive Doug Parker, whose carrier plans to merge with AMR Corp's
"This is not an airline that's going to be built on a cost advantage vs. United and Delta," Parker, who will be CEO of the new American should the deal be approved, told the conference. "The value is in running a better airline and doing better on the revenue front than they can."
But Chief Executive Dave Barger said "March is really strong," citing benefit from the shift of the Easter holiday into this month from April last year.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Nick Zieminski)