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In another sign that airline traffic is picking up, United Airlines said August traffic rose, and a key measure of revenue was up as much as 19 percent.
United said its passenger revenue for each seat flown one mile rose 18 percent to 19 percent in August, compared with August 2009. That was enough to make it about even with its level in August 2008, which was just before the recession and financial meltdown caused businesses to cut travel budgets.
United's systemwide traffic rose 2.5 percent to 11.3 billion revenue passenger miles, or one paying passenger flown one mile. Capacity rose 1.7 percent to 13.03 billion available seat miles. International capacity rose 4.2 percent, while North America capacity was down 3.3 percent.
With traffic rising faster than capacity, United planes were fuller. Load factor, a measure of occupancy, rose 0.6 percentage points to 86.7 percent.
On flights operated by United (as opposed to for-hire feeder carriers), traffic rose 0.6 percent to 9.76 billion revenue passenger miles, from 9.7 billion revenue passenger miles a year earlier. Mainline capacity fell 0.1 percent to 11.13 billion available seat miles.
For the first eight months of the year, United traffic rose 3 percent to 79.82 billion revenue passenger miles systemwide. Capacity fell 0.3 percent to 95.41 billion available seat miles. Load factor rose 2.7 percentage points to 83.7 percent.
Shares of United's Chicago-based parent UAL Corp. fell 21 cents to close at $22.06. After the traffic and revenue numbers came out, the shares rose 13 cents to $22.19 in aftermarket trading.