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Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines Group All Report February Traffic

Major airlines Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV  ) , United Airlines (NYSE: UAL  ) , and American Airlines Group (NASDAQ: AAL  ) all reported their February traffic numbers today, and all were affected by the weather.

Source: Flickr/Kuster & Wildhaber Photography.

Southwest Airlines reported that despite 6.1% fewer trips flown in February and a 1.1% decline in revenue passengers carried, its revenue passenger miles were up 1.2% to nearly 7.2 billion. [A revenue passenger mile is one paying passenger flown one mile.] Through the first two months of 2014, the company has also reported its total trips flown is down 6.7% compared to the year-ago period. As a result of increased load factor (up 3 percentage points to 77.2%), however, its total revenue passenger miles have risen to 14.6 billion, an increase of 1.7%.

Revenue for every seat flown one mile rose 5% last month, compared with February 2013. That figure rises when more seats are filled or average fares increase. That revenue got a percentage-point bump due to bad weather last month, the carrier said Monday.

United Airlines saw its revenue passenger miles fall by 0.3% in February, with a dip of 0.8% domestically and 0.4% internationally. It, like Southwest, noted its load factor was up. [Load factor represents the percentage of seats filled by paying passengers.] The company noted it had to cancel more than 11,000 flights in February as a result of the weather, which reduced its capacity by approximately 3 percentage points year over year. Through January and February, its total revenue passenger miles stood at 28.9 billion, a decrease of 1% from 29.2 billion seen in 2013.

Finally, American Airlines noted its revenue passenger miles increased to 15.1 billion in February, a gain of 0.5% above the 15.0 billion seen in February 2013. However, its available seat miles rose at a higher pace of 0.8%, which meant its load factor was down slightly to 78.4%. The company highlighted it had to cancel more than 14,000 flights in February as a result of the weather, bringing its total canceled flights to 28,000 in 2014, a 164% increase over the same period in 2013.

Despite the cancellations, American Airlines noted it still expects its passenger revenue per available seat mile to be up between 2% and 4% in the first quarter. However, the company did note as a result of the weather that its total profit will be down as a result of higher unit costs. It said it will provide further guidance on the impact in early April.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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Patrick Morris

After a few stints in banking and corporate finance, Patrick joined the Motley Fool as a writer covering the financial sector. He's scaled back his everyday writing a bit, but he's always happy to opine on the latest headline news surrounding Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett and all things personal finance.

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