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The Associated Press August 2, 2010, 4:48PM ET

Researchers say N. American airline capacity up

Airlines in North America are adding a few extra seats this month for the first time since 2007, according to an aviation industry research firm.

The increase is just 1 percent compared with August 2009, but it's the first year-over-year increase in three years, OAG said Monday.

The company said there is a 4 percent increase in seating capacity to and from North America, although those flights account for only one-fourth as much capacity as those within North America.

OAG said growth is still flat in several major markets including Dallas-Fort Worth and Las Vegas. Miami, however, is up 5 percent over a year ago.

U.S. airlines cut capacity in 2008 when jet fuel prices hit record levels, and kept them low when the recession cut into business travel. Less capacity has helped airlines boost fares, which contributed to strong profits at most major U.S. airlines in the April-to-June quarter.

According to OAG, North America is the third-largest aviation market after Asia Pacific and Europe. Asia Pacific continues to add seats more rapidly -- up 10 percent from last August. Capacity within Europe will rise 7 percent, the firm said.

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