Lower fuel costs and steady travel demand continue to boost the nation's airlines, which enjoyed their most profitable quarter since 2007.
Commercial airlines reported net income of $5.5 billion for the three months that ended in June, a 53 percent increase over the same period last year, according to financial data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
That's the highest net income since the carriers collected $5.9 billion in the same period in 2007.
The latest financial data show the industry remains on firm footing after losing billions of dollars in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2008 recession.
The formula for the ninth straight profitable quarter: fuel costs that have dropped about 30 percent since the same period last year, combined with passenger totals that have jumped nearly 10 percent, and fees from checked bags and reservation changes that have climbed about 5 percent, according to federal data. Revenue from fares has remained nearly flat over the past year.
The most profitable airline in the second quarter was Delta Air Lines, with net income of $1.5 billion, up nearly 85 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the Transportation Department.