Southwest traffic rose 11.7 percent in November

AP News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2009 10:18 AM

Southwest Airlines Co. said Friday that November traffic jumped 11.7 percent over the same month last year, when recession and shock waves in the financial industry were hurting business travel.

Southwest said revenue for each seat it offered, a closely watched measurement in the airline industry, rose about 12 percent.

The results pointed to a strong end of the year for the Dallas-based airline, which carries more passengers in the U.S. than any airline. Traffic and other measurements were far stronger in November than for the year so far as a whole.

Southwest said paying customers flew 5.88 billion miles last month, up from 5.26 billion in November 2008.

Meanwhile, the airline was reducing seats, which caused planes to fly closer to full. Passenger-carrying capacity fell 7.7 percent, to 7.69 billion available seat miles. Airlines cut seats with fewer flights and some smaller planes to reduce costs and drive up fares by shifting the balance of supply and demand.

The average November flight took off with 76.5 percent of the seats filled, compared with 63.2 percent a year earlier.

For the year through November, Southwest passengers flew 68.49 billion miles, up 1.2 percent over the same period last year. Capacity fell 5 percent to 90.17 billion available seat miles. Average flight occupancy rose to 76 percent from 71.3 percent.

Southwest shares added 49 cents, or 5.2 percent, at $10 in morning trading.