Shares of low-fare airline America West (NYSE:AWA) traded up this morning following the release of upbeat traffic numbers for both September and the third quarter of 2003. Also worth noting were stronger-than-usual September figures, which the company attributed to continued growth in business traffic.

The news dovetails nicely with developments in the company's flight plans -- non-stop coast-to-coast flights at relatively inexpensive prices are scheduled to begin this month, as discussed in an August article written by Selena Maranjian. (Selena also took a look at low-cost competitor Southwest (NYSE:LUV) last month. JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU), too, has received coverage lately.)

This news, combined with reports from the company that customer satisfaction is ticking upwards, could bode well for America West as it tries to garner the corporate traffic all travel companies crave. Offering such trips at a lower price point could attract business if the flight experience and selection don't turn customers away when compared to what's offered by America West's full-price peers.

These are bold moves from America West, which continues to look for ways to grow effectively. It dropped out of the Columbus, Ohio, market earlier this year, but has also added service to Costa Rica, signed on to deliver passengers to new destinations in Mexico and Canada, and expanded its Las Vegas business (among other moves, including service that allows me to fly America West when visiting my parents).

Operating in the low-fare segment is no small challenge, as companies such as Southwest have staked out strong positions in the business by simplifying their fleets and carefully selecting point-to-point flights rather than using the traditional "hub-and-spoke" airline model travelers have no doubt experienced while flying from Boston to Cincinnati with stopovers in Atlanta and Calgary.

In adding the transatlantic non-stops, America West is joining the point-to-point crowd in hopes of getting new customers with the added service. Marketing appropriately, including picking the right destinations and price points, will be key to the airline's success as it works to find the right spot in the business.

The success of its ability to keep too many seats from going empty -- and of its ability to continue drawing business travelers -- will be more important than ever for America West.