Southwest Airlines Posts 4% Rise in March Traffic

By TransportationFOXBusiness

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) said its traffic rose 4% in March compared to last year, while passenger revenue per available seat mile remained level.

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Rival airlines also reported better traffic last month.  Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) saw its traffic tick up, but said the government sequester impacted late bookings, which normally demand higher fares. US Airways Group (NYSE:LCC) echoed that sentiment and posted a 5.2% jump in traffic.

Southwest, the largest domestic airline, reported 3.8% growth in capacity. The percentage of seats filled, or load factor, rose to 82% from 81.8%.

The company began as a pioneer discount airline, but Southwest is eyeing an expansion beyond the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Southwest’s fourth-quarter profit plunged 49% on traffic declines, lower fuel-hedging gains and higher operating expenses.

Southwest shares fell nearly 2% to $12.55 in early morning trading Friday. As of Thursday’s close, the stock was up 24% so far this year.

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