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April traffic down at American Airlines

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- American Airlines said Wednesday that traffic and a key revenue measure both declined in April, adding to indications of weaker pricing power among the nation's carriers.

Passenger revenue for each mile flown by every seat on its planes fell 2.9 percent from April 2012, the airline said.

That's a closely watched statistic in the airline business. Combined with declines at other carriers, the American figure suggests that carriers aren't selling as many high-fare tickets as they did a year ago.

The same statistic declined 4 to 5 percent at Southwest, 4 percent at US Airways, 2 percent at Delta Air Lines and was flat at United Airlines in April.

Traffic on American and regional-flying affiliate American Eagle fell 1.1 percent, as passengers traveled 11.09 billion miles last month, down from 11.21 billion in April 2012. Domestic travel was slightly weaker than international. April was weaker than the first quarter, when traffic rose slightly.

American and Eagle increased their passenger-carrying capacity by 0.4 percent in April. With traffic falling and the airlines adding more seats, the average flight was not as full — 81.6 percent instead of 82.9 percent. Domestic and trans-Atlantic flights were the fullest; trans-Pacific flights had the highest percentage of empty seats.

American and Eagle are owned by AMR Corp., which has announced plans to merge with US Airways Group Inc. AMR has been operating under bankruptcy protection since late 2011.