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American Airlines traffic dips, revenue ratio flat

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Passengers traveled less on American Airlines in October than a year ago, resulting in the company reporting that a key revenue measure was nearly flat and grew more slowly than at other big U.S. airlines.

Parent AMR Corp. said Thursday that Hurricane Sandy, which has become known as Superstorm Sandy, didn't have a significant impact on the revenue statistic, even though American and its American Eagle affiliate canceled more than 2,000 flights because of the late-October storm.

American tried in October to recover from a disastrous September, when it was hit with widespread delays and cancellations. American had said that flights booked close to the day of travel fell in the second half of September because of poor operations, which the company blamed on what it called an illegal work slowdown by pilots.

Passengers on American and its American Eagle subsidiary flew 11.10 billion miles last month, a decline of 3.7 percent from October 2011.

International traffic dipped just 0.6 percent, while miles flown within the U.S. dropped 6 percent.

The company cut passenger-carrying capacity by 3.4 percent, so planes were nearly as full as they were a year earlier. Average occupancy dipped to 82.3 percent from 82.6 percent.

AMR said revenue for one mile flown by each seat increased 0.4 percent. That's a closely watched statistic in the airline business; it rises when airlines fill more seats, charge higher fares, or both.

The revenue ratio rose 4 percent in September, faster than at other U.S. airlines. But the October number was less than Delta Air Lines' 5.5 percent increase, Southwest Airlines' 5 percent gain, US Airways' pickup of 3 percent, and a rise of between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent at United Airlines.

American is the nation's third-biggest airline behind United and Delta. AMR and American, both based in Fort Worth, Texas, have been operating under bankruptcy protection since November 2011.