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American Airlines sees dip in revenue measure

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- There are fewer empty seats these days on American Airlines, but the company is getting less money per seat.

Parent AMR Corp. said Friday that traffic in May rose 0.8 percent — not much, but more than the 0.3 percent increase in passenger-carrying capacity.

As a result, the average flight was 84 percent full last month, the highest figure ever for May and an improvement from last May's 83.5 percent.

The figures include American and its regional-flying affiliate, American Eagle.

Passengers on American and Eagle flew 11.97 billion miles last month, up from 11.88 billion in May 2012. Domestic traffic fell 2.1 percent, but international traffic rose 5.2 percent, led by a 9.3 percent increase in travel to and from Latin America.

However, the company's passenger revenue for every seat flown one mile fell by 1.8 percent.

That's a closely watched measure of pricing power and average fares in the airline business. Delta Air Lines reported this week that the same figure rose a half-percent, while it dropped 2 percent at Southwest Airlines Co., which owns AirTran Airways.

Fort Worth-based American, which is operating under bankruptcy protection, is the nation's third-biggest airline by passenger miles. It's in the process of merging with No. 5 US Airways, which would make American the biggest carrier in the world.