Alaska Airlines and Spirit Airlines delivered largely encouraging updates on projected second-quarter results, providing more evidence that the US market is strengthening as it hits peak summer.

Seattle-based Alaska projects its 2Q RASM will be up 5% year-over-year (YOY), at the top end of its 3.5%-5% guidance issued last month. Entering the quarter, was projecting a wider range, with 5% at the top end. 

“Our RASM is expected to be at the top end of our previous guidance range due primarily to improved close-in pricing in many of the markets we serve,” the airline said in a July 11 investor update.

Alaska is coming in ahead of forecast on unit costs as well, with CASM-ex expected to be up 2.5%, compared a projection of 4%. The airline cites “improved productivity” as well as some cost-shifting into the second half of 2019 for the better-than-expected cost performance. J.P. Morgan estimates that “timing accounts for no more than one-third of the improvement in the 2Q guide,” analyst Jamie Baker wrote in an investor note.

Meanwhile, Florida-based ULCC Spirit Airlines, in a July 11 update, said it is expected to meet its most recent 2Q guidance, including a 5% total RASM increase “driven by increases in both yield and load factor” and a 4.6% rise in CASM-ex.

While Spirit may hit its marks, higher-than-projected figures reported by Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and anticipated from other carriers such as Dallas/Fort Worth-based American Airlines and Alaska that have upped guidance, citing strong demand and favorable pricing, could leave some disappointed in the ULCC.

“The lack of an increase in unit revenue is noteworthy as we have seen numerous airlines exceed expectations,” Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker wrote in an investor note.

The trend also may be a sign of more conservative forecasting by major airlines. Becker and some other analysts have suggested the strategy is becoming more prevalent as carriers seek easy ways to appease Wall Street.

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@aviationweek.com