American Airlines traffic up 1.3 percent in March

International gains lift American Airlines' March traffic by 1.3 percent from a year ago

Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- American Airlines said Wednesday that passenger traffic grew 1.3 percent in March, and planes were fuller because the airline cut back on seats.

Other U.S. airlines have been earning more revenue per mile thanks to fare increases. It was unclear whether American is enjoying the same pricing power because, unlike most of its rivals, American does not release monthly figures for that key revenue measurement.

Paying passengers flew 10.80 billion miles last month, compared with 10.66 billion miles in March 2011. Airline traffic is measured in miles flown.

International traffic rose 3.5 percent, with the biggest gain on Pacific routes. Nearly 40 percent of American's traffic comes from international flights.

Domestic traffic slipped 0.1 percent from a year earlier.

American cut passenger-carrying capacity by 1.47 percent from a year earlier. Airlines can reduce capacity by cutting flights or switching to smaller planes on some routes.

With traffic growing while capacity was falling, the average flight was 82.5 percent full in March, up 2.2 percentage points in a year.

American Eagle, which connects passengers from smaller cities to American Airlines hubs, reported that traffic rose 6 percent and it cut capacity by 0.9 percent from a year ago.

The combined traffic of American and Eagle rose 1.6 percent in a year.

American and Eagle are owned by AMR Corp. The airlines and the parent company filed for bankruptcy protection Nov. 29.

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