Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today reported November revenue passenger miles of 8.1 billion, falling by a little more than 82 million, a decrease of roughly 1%, when compared to November of last year. In addition to its revenue miles falling, its available seat miles rose by 77 million, or 0.8% to 10.3 billion miles. As a result of the decrease in passenger miles and increase in available miles, the company's load factor -- the percentage of a plane filled with paying passengers -- fell by 1.4 percentage points from 80% last November to 78.6% this year. (Click here to go to Southwest's glossary of terms.)
In addition to the total miles traveled falling, Southwest also noted that it anticipated the passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) to have fallen by 6% when compared to November of last year. However, it did note "while November was significantly affected by the shift in Thanksgiving holiday return travel, the benefit to December is expected to drive a dramatic year-over-year increase in December PRASM."
US Airways reported similar results last week, as domestic revenue passenger miles were down 1.6%, and its available miles were up by 4%, leading to its load factor falling from 87.1% to 82.4%. In addition, the company noted its PRASM fell by 4%. It, too, attributed the weakness to the timing of the Thanksgiving holiday.
A chart of Southwest's November results is available below:
Southwest has seen its revenue passenger miles grow by 0.7% when comparing the first 11 months of 2013 to 2012, but its available seat miles is up 1.6%, leading to its load factor declining from 80.5% to 79.8% on the year.