Southwest Airlines Co. Outpaces American Airlines Group Inc. in March Traffic Increases

Both Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV  ) and American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL  ) announced their traffic results for March today, and while each reported increases over March of last year, Southwest saw its traffic increase at a quicker rate than American Airlines.

Southwest noted that despite its total trips flown falling by 4.5%, its revenue passenger miles were up to 9.6 billion, an increase of 1.6% over March of last year. Its load factor -- representing how full planes are -- rose by 0.7 percentage points to 82.7%, but its revenue passengers carried fell by 0.9% to 9.8 million from 9.9 million. In total, the company noted its passenger revenue per available seat mile rose by approximately 1%.

On the other hand, America Airlines reported its total revenue passenger miles stood at 18.5 billion, which was an increase of 0.9% above March 2013. However, in total, its capacity rose to 22.6 billion available seat miles, which resulted in its load factor falling by 1.6 percentage points to 81.8%.

American Airlines noted severe weather in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., all cities in which it has hubs, and said it had to cancel more than 34,000 flights through the first three months of the year. As a result, it expects its revenue will decrease by $115 million, and its profit will decline by $60 million.

For the first three months of the year, American Airlines noted its total revenue passenger miles rose by 1.7% to 50.8 billion, however, its available seat miles were up 2%, which resulted in its load factor falling by 0.2 percentage points to 80.3%.

Like American Airlines, Southwest also saw its first-quarter revenue passenger miles increase by 1.7%, yet its available seat miles fell by 1.1%, which in turn resulted in its load factor increasing 2.2 percentage points to 79.3%.

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