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American Airlines posts gain in key revenue figure

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- American Airlines said Friday that a key revenue figure rose in February despite a dip in passenger traffic.

The results reflected the airline's ability to fill more of its seats and likely to benefit from higher average fares.

Parent AMR Corp. said that passenger revenue for every seat flown one mile on American and regional affiliate American Eagle rose an estimated 4.7 percent last month compared with February 2012. That's a closely watched measure of pricing power in the airline business.

Two bigger rivals did slightly better. This week, United Airlines reported a gain of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent in the same figure, and Delta Air Lines posted a 5 percent increase. But American's revenue figure beat similar results at US Airways and Southwest Airlines.

Traffic on American and American Eagle fell 1.1 percent, as customers flew 9.78 billion miles last month, down from 9.89 billion in February 2012. International traffic fell 0.8 percent, while domestic traffic dropped 1.3 percent.

Together American and Eagle cut their passenger-carrying capacity by 4.4 percent. Airlines typically reduce capacity by operating fewer flights or using smaller planes.

By reducing capacity, AMR wound up with fewer empty seats. The average flight was 77.9 percent full, up from 75.4 percent a year earlier.

AMR, American and Eagle, all based in Fort Worth, Texas, have been operating under bankruptcy protection since November 2011. The company announced plans last month to merge with US Airways Group Inc. The deal would need approval by the bankruptcy judge, U.S. antitrust regulators, and shareholders of both companies.