US Airline Passenger Traffic Still Climbing as Airline Industry Begins to Soar

The airline industry in the United States carried
57.3 million passengers in September, the US government said Thursday. That is
the most drastic increase in traffic in three years, and is up over 5 percent
from last year’s figures.


Delta Air Lines led the way, carrying more passengers
than any other U.S. airline. Southwest Airlines led low cost carriers by carrying
the most passengers who just traveled domestically.

The airline industry is doing very well as a whole. The
$7.1 billion in operating profits that U.S. airlines posted over the first nine
months of 2010 is the most since 1999, according to a recent CNN report.

This is sparking expansion in the airlines industry as
a whole with airlines announcing new routes and destinations as well as entry
into new airline markets. Airlines are announcing new aircraft purchases to facilitate
the increased traffic. Several airlines have announced plans to hire new pilots
for these aircraft.

On Wednesday, Southwest Airlines chairman and CEO
Gary Kelly said that Southwest will change an existing order with Boeing Co.
and get 20 new 737-800 jets beginning in March 2012 in response to increased passenger loads.

Kelly also said that the 2012 aircraft would arrive
at Southwest “ETOPS enabled,” meaning that they could fly long
distances over the ocean to new destinations such as Hawaii if Southwest decided to expand
into that market as rumored.

The US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of
Transportation Statistics said U.S. airlines carried 4.3 percent more domestic
passengers in September and 9.4 percent more international passengers than in
September 2009. Planes were fuller than in any other September on record.