DALLAS (AP) — Traffic is up but a key revenue measure is down at Southwest Airlines Co., indicating that carriers are finding it harder to sell high-priced tickets.
Southwest said Tuesday that passenger revenue per seat for every mile fell by between 4 percent and 5 percent in April.
That's a closely watched measure of pricing power in the airline industry, and Southwest's report echoed last week's news from US Airways, which said that the revenue ratio fell 4 percent in April. US Airways said travel by government employees dropped after automatic federal spending cuts took effect.
The revenue ratio was flat at Southwest in March compared with the year before. It rose when carriers imposed frequent fare increases over the previous couple of years.
Southwest, which owns AirTran Airways, said that traffic on the two carriers rose 1.5 percent last month compared with April 2012. Passengers flew 8.74 billion miles. The average trip was 16 miles longer, at 942 miles.
However, the increase in traffic wasn't enough to keep up with expansion at Southwest and AirTran. The airlines added 4.1 percent passenger-carrying capacity — that figure rises when carriers add flights, use bigger planes or fly longer trips.