Continental Airlines Inc. said on Wednesday that a closely watched measure of revenue jumped as much as 19 percent in August, and the parent of US Airways said Thursday that August traffic rose slightly from a year ago but revenue per passenger grew faster, a reflection of higher fares and fees.
Many of the big airlines shrank their fleets during the recession, but fares are generally up from last year. That has made it possible for airlines to collect more money for flying even as they fly less.
Continental said its revenue per available seat mile -- a closely watched ratio of revenue to capacity -- rose 18 percent to 19 percent in August. That followed a 21 percent rise in July and a 21.5 percent in June.
Continental Airline’s regional carriers flying as Continental Express or Continental Connection had traffic increases of 2%.
Its planes were fuller. Continental's load factor, or occupancy, for the month was 86.5 percent, up 0.7 percentage points from August 2009. Industrywide airline capacity is up 2 percent, Crissey wrote, with discount carriers up more than so-called "legacy" carriers like Continental. However, airlines will add more capacity in the fourth quarter, he wrote.
Houston-based Continental is planning to combine with United Airlines to form the world's biggest carrier. Shareholder votes are planned for Sept. 17. For the first eight months of the year, traffic rose 2.9 percent to 62.4 billion revenue passenger miles. Capacity was flat at about 74.72 billion available seat miles. Load factor rose 2.4 percentage points to 83.5 percent.