Southwest Airlines (LUV) said its traffic rose 4% in March compared to last year, while passenger revenue per available seat mile remained level.
Rival airlines also reported better traffic last month. Delta Air Lines (DAL) saw its traffic tick up, but said the government sequester impacted late bookings, which normally demand higher fares. US Airways Group (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.