American Airlines reported hefty passenger loads and increased traffic during December, as holiday travelers flocked to the skies.
The Fort Worth-based airline said Tuesday that its airplanes flew nearly 79 percent full, on average, during the month, a jump of 4 percentage points compared with December 2004. Overall passenger traffic was up about 5 percent compared with last year, even as the airline cut its total capacity by about 1 percent.
American Eagle, the airline's regional affiliate, reported a 24 percent increase in traffic compared with December 2004.
The December report caps a year of strong traffic growth for American and other airlines as demand strengthened despite rising fares. The growth has translated into a much-needed boost in revenue for the struggling industry.
Jamie Baker, an airline analyst for JP Morgan Securities in New York, predicted Tuesday that revenues across the industry should be up by nearly 13 percent for December.
He said that American, Continental Airlines and the newly configured US Airways, which merged with America West, are his top picks in the industry.
Shares of AMR Corp., American's parent company, slipped 39 cents in trading Tuesday to close at $21.84 per share.
The airline's traffic report was issued after the market closed.
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