Despite major winter storms lashing most of the nation in January, U.S. airlines ended up with more passengers last month than they did for the same time period a year ago.
Alaska Airlines reported the largest increase in both passenger traffic and available airline seats last month with a 15.8% rise in traffic and a 12.4% increase in the number of seats that are available.
Southwest Airlines saw a 13.2% increase in passenger traffic, as well as increase in passenger revenue which rose 8 to 9 percent.
JetBlue Airways reported the largest increase in passenger loads (the percentage of available seats that are filled with passengers) for January with an 80% load factor, which is a 5.9% increase over the same period last year. The spike in load factor was probably because storm-related flight cancellations made it necessary to put its passengers on a fewer number of flights.
All of the major U.S airlines reported more traffic than in January 2009. AirTran, JetBlue and US Airways all flew with less available seats than a year earlier. American was the only airline that filled a smaller percentage of its seats.
United Continental reported its passenger revenue increasing 11.5 to 12.5 percent, while combined figures for both mainline and regional flying was up 10.5 to 11.5 percent.
US Airways reported its combined passenger unit revenue for mainline and regional flying up 7 percent with Allegiant Air’s passenger unit revenue up 5.1 to 5.5 percent.
The higher load factors for U.S. airlines, combined with increased revenues and profitability, point to the need for the expansion of their fleets and and increased demand for new pilots to fly for them.