American, Others See Passenger Traffic on the Rise

American Airlines traffic leapt during July, as strong summer travel demand continued to draw passengers to the skies.

The Fort Worth-based company's airplanes flew more than 85 percent full, on average, up 4 percentage points from July 2004, the airline said Tuesday. Overall passenger traffic climbed by 8 percent.

Other carriers also reported big gains in what has been the heaviest travel summer in several years. American Eagle, the airline's regional affiliate, experienced a 23 percent jump in traffic for the month. And discount carrier AirTran Airways, which serves Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, reported its highest traffic ever, up nearly 40 percent.

The strong flow of passengers has pushed up industry revenues, analysts say. Jamie Baker, an analyst with JPMorgan Securities, predicted in a research note that revenues would rise about 6 percent for the month.

Still, it remains doubtful that the improved revenue will offset the high cost of jet fuel. Crude oil prices remained above $60 this week, and most analysts expect the major hub airlines to post another year of significant losses.

Some have speculated that two airlines -- Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines -- could end up in bankruptcy court by the end of the year.

At American, international traffic was up nearly 12 percent during July, while domestic traffic rose about 6 percent.

Traffic levels outstripped the airline's overall capacity, which grew by about 3 percent. Nearly 10 million passengers boarded American during July.