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Southwest Airlines March Traffic, Capacity, Load Factor Rises

Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) reported Friday operational results for the month of March, reporting that traffic, capacity and load factor grew from last year. The passenger revenue per available seat mile or PRASM, for March 2013 is estimated to have been flat when compared to March 2012.

Dallas, Texas-based Southwest said traffic, measured in revenue passenger miles or RPMs, grew 4.0 percent to 9.44 billion from 9.08 billion in the same month last year. Capacity, measured in available seat miles or ASMs, also increased 3.8 percent to 11.51 billion from last year's 11.09 billion.

Load factor for the month edged up 0.2 percentage points to 82.0 percent from the year-ago month's 81.8 percent.

Revenue passengers carried totaled 9.89 million, up 3.1 percent from 9.59 million in the year-ago month.

The number of passengers enplaned during the month advanced 2.6 percent to 12.04 million from last year's 11.73 million. However, the number of trips flown declined 1.9 percent to 116,393 from a year ago.

For the year-to-date three-month period, traffic edged up 0.3 percent to 23.76 billion RPMs from 23.68 billion RPMs in the same period last year. Capacity also edged up 0.6 percent to 30.80 billion ASMs from last year at 30.63 billion ASMs.

However, load factor for the period edged down 0.2 percentage points to 77.1 percent from the year-ago period's 77.3 percent.

Meanwhile, Southwest reported in late-January a profit for the fourth quarter that plunged 49 percent from last year, as higher operating expenses more than offset an increase in revenues. Traffic, capacity and load factor also were down slightly. Total quarterly operating revenues grew 2 percent to $4.17 billion from the prior-year quarter.

LUV closed Thursday's regular trading session at $12.80, up $0.26 on a volume of 7.57 million shares.

by RTT Staff Writer

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