What a difference a few years can make.

In the not too distant past, airlines around the world were struggling to fill seats and generate profits as corporate travel budgets dried up. Five of the nine largest U.S. carriers posted losses totaling nearly $4 billion in 2009.

Fast forward to the present, and airlines are reaping record profits amid low oil prices, industry consolidation and economic stability. The four biggest U.S. airlines recorded roughly $22 billion in profit in 2015.

Reflecting that health, domestic passenger load factor among all U.S. carriers rose from 78.5 percent in 2005 to 85.8 percent in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

In addition to posting record profits, airlines have made at least two groundbreaking deals in 2016.

Allegiant Air this year became the official passenger airline of NASCAR—the sanctioning body’s first partner in the airline category—while Emirates partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that some say represents the category’s largest sponsorship of a North American-based property.

Further reflecting the category’s health, some airlines are moving away from in-kind deals in favor of cash partnerships. Southwest Airlines Co., for example, now signs cash deals exclusively.

The Most Active Sponsors In The Airline Category (Number Of Deals)
The Most Active Sponsors In The Airline Category (Number Of Deals)
Twenty-one percent of properties with a sponsor in the airline category report a partnership with United Airlines.

Where Airlines Spend Money
Where Airlines Spend Money