Traffic falls at 3 airlines; Southwest reports rise
By Jeff Green
Bloomberg News Service
Dallas UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. said March passenger traffic fell as air travel declined and the carriers reduced service.
Southwest Airlines Co.'s traffic rose 1 percent.
United's traffic, or number of miles flown by paying travelers, slid 13.1 percent from March 2001 as the world's No. 2 carrier trimmed flight and seat capacity 18.1 percent. Delta's traffic declined 6.7 percent on 9.1 percent less capacity, and Northwest's traffic slid 7.2 percent on 10.8 percent lower capacity.
Southwest traffic rose as capacity climbed 4 percent.
Air travel decreased after the Sept. 11 attacks, deepening a slump in business travel. The decline prompted U.S. airlines to lower capacity, and they have since tried to revive demand by lowering ticket prices. Southwest, the largest low-fare carrier, was the only major U.S. airline that didn't reduce capacity or eliminate jobs after the attacks.
United's reduced capacity kept planes 77.5 percent full on average, up from 73 percent. Atlanta-based Delta's planes were 76.1 percent full on average, up from 74.2 percent, and Northwest's planes were 81.9 percent full, up from 78.8 percent in March 2001. Planes at Southwest, the only one of the four airlines that doesn't fly internationally, were 70.2 percent full, down from 72.3 percent.
Southwest's first-quarter traffic fell 2.5 percent, and planes flew 62.9 percent full, down from the year-earlier 67.3 percent. The Dallas-based airline said last month it couldn't predict whether it earned money in the first quarter.