The top three U.S. passenger airlines expanded cargo revenue a combined 33 percent in the second quarter, as soaring freight demand added to the carriers’ rapidly growing profits.
United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines reported a combined $571 million in the three months ending June 30, $143 million better than the $428 million the carriers counted a year ago.
United led the growth, with cargo revenue jumping 57 percent to $190 million compared to the same quarter a year ago. The improved belly business helped the carrier turn a $273 million net profit, up from $28 million last year.
Delta remained the largest freight carrier among U.S. passenger airlines, with $211 million in cargo revenue, up 22 percent from a year ago. The carrier has been the largest cargo carrier among the passenger airlines since merging with Northwest Airlines, although the airline decided to park the Northwest freighter fleet last year.
Delta also was the most profitable of the three, reporting a $467 million net profit after losing $257 million a year ago.
American reported $170 million in cargo revenue, 27.5 percent better than last year. American lost $11 million in the quarter, but the carrier showed a $196 million operating profit.