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Revenue figure, traffic rise at Southwest Airlines

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm •  Published: February 6, 2014

DALLAS (AP) — Passenger traffic and a key revenue measure are rising at Southwest and AirTran, a sign that strong demand for travel in late 2013 is carrying over into the new year.

Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday that passengers flew 7.41 billion miles last month, up 2.2 percent from January 2013. Most of the increase was due to longer trips — the average rose to 961 miles. The number of paying passengers rose just 0.3 percent.

Revenue from every seat flown one mile rose about 5 percent from a year earlier. That's a closely watched figure in the airline business, and it rises when airlines fill more seats or charge higher average fares. Southwest said that about one point of the increase was due to flights that were canceled during winter storms, as some displaced passengers were put on other flights, making them more crowded.

The figures include both Southwest and its AirTran subsidiary, which the company is phasing out by year end.

The airlines reduced capacity by 2.6 percent. Combined with the increase in traffic, that boosted occupancy on the average flight to 76.3 percent from 72.7 percent in January 2013. The number of trips flown dropped 7.4 percent, to 97,553.

Shares of Dallas-based Southwest rose 27 cents to $20.88 in midday trading.