Air Transport World

Prinair recovering; yields first, traffic second; after 18 months of minor losses the large Puerto Rican airline moves back into the black; new aircraft allow aging Herons to be retired.

SAN JUAN--Just as big boats weather storms better than small boats, so has Prinair been able to weather the impact of increased competition, decreased yields and recession-slashed leisure traffic with few signs of distress from the captain's cabin.

Despite the economic tempest that battered Prinair's prow, the airline is cruising into calmer water with a modernization program well underway, route expansion plans intact and yields on they way back up.

Few regional carriers could suffer the loss of 270,000 annual passengers without panic, but Prinair has done just that. In its peak year of 1979 the Puerto Rican-based carrier flew nearly 850,000 souls around the Caribbean. Then the impact of recession and cmpetition began to take its toll, resulting in a gradual decline to 576,378 passengers last year. The downward trend now has been checked, Prinair President Cesar Toledo told ATW. Traffic for the first quarter, he estimated, will be same as the like period in 1983. Despite the traffic loss, the airline's employment rolls remain at about 600.

More important to Toledo than sheer numbers of passengers is the yield, held dow so long by competition that Prinair was stuck in the loss column for the 18 months up to the start of this year. Althought the losses were not severe, Toledo was glad to see decreased competitive pressure that allowed yields to rise 14% during the three months of December-February. …

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