September saw a return of traffic growth for the Houston-based carrier for the first time since last August, helped by a favorable year-ago comparison. In 2008, Continental’s operations were impacted by Hurricane Ike, which caused a multi-day closure of its Houston hub.
Total traffic in September rose 7% to 6.9 billion revenue passenger miles from 6.5 billion. A revenue passenger mile is one passenger flown one mile.
And that bodes well for other airlines which are eager to start lifting ticket prices after months of fare slashing.
AirTran said Friday its September traffic shot up 11% from a year ago even as capacity grew 7.2%. Load factor — or the percentage of available seats filled with passengers — was also up, adding 2.6 points at 77%.
Continental’s capacity was also up slightly for the month, adding 0.5% to 8.5 billion available seat miles. Load factor rose five points from last year to 81.5%.