United Airlines traffic up but so are empty seats

At United, growth in traffic lags increase in passenger-carrying capacity

Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) -- Passengers flew more miles on United Airlines last month, but faster growth in capacity on international flights resulted in a few more empty seats.

United Continental Holdings Inc. said Tuesday that traffic rose 0.7 percent as passengers flew 17.47 billion miles in March. Traffic rose in the U.S. and to Latin America but fell elsewhere, compared with March 2013.

United increased passenger-carrying capacity by 2.7 percent, with most of the increase on international routes. Airlines raise capacity by adding flights, using bigger planes or flying longer distances.

With capacity rising faster than traffic, the average flight was 82.8 percent full, down from 84.4 percent a year earlier. Weaker occupancy on international flights dragged down the average.

The figures include flights on regional United Express planes.

United shares fell $1.04, or 2.3 percent, to close at $43.31. They are up 14.5 percent in 2014.

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