Watch CBSN Live

Virgin America Posts Low January Load Factors

January load factor numbers came out last month, but after looking back at Virgin America's Q4 yesterday, I thought it would be worthwhile to look for any leading indicators of the airline's Q1 performance. They aren't good.

In Q4, you saw an airline that was stagnant. It wasn't growing (actually shrunk slightly), and there were no signs that profitability was anywhere on the horizon. We don't know much about Q1 yet, but we do know January load factors. Take a look.

January 2009
IAD-LAX 66.1%
IAD-SFO 66.5%
JFK-LAS 58.5%
JFK-LAX 75.4%
JFK-SFO 76.7%
LAS-SFO 70.7%
LAX-SEA 58.1%
LAX-SFO 59.8%
SAN-SFO 58.2%
SEA-SFO 52.8%
As you can see, these are some pretty empty airplanes flying around. Yes, demand has been tanking, but most airlines actually held up pretty well in January. The worst load factor performance from the group was Continental losing 3.6 points year-over-year. Virgin America was actually up year-over-year thanks to some dreadful start-up numbers last January, but its 68 percent load in January was very, very low. It was also 14.8 points off of December's numbers.

It wasn't until February and March that demand really started to fall off for the other carriers. Add in the fact that fuel prices have started to steadily creep up, and you have some pretty rough prospects for Virgin America's Q1.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.