Scheduled passenger and airfreight services provider Alaska Air Group, Inc. (ALK) Friday reported March operational results for its subsidiaries, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. Traffic and capacity at Alaska Airlines declined from last year, while load factor edged up. Meanwhile, load factor, traffic and capacity at Horizon Air decreased for the month.

Alaska Airlines

The Seattle, Washington-based airliner said Alaska Airlines' load factor for March increased 0.8 percentage points to 81.6% from 80.8% in the same month a year ago.

Traffic for the month of March, measured in revenue passenger miles, or RPMs, declined 8.1% to 1.559 billion from 1.696 billion in the same period last year.

For March, capacity, measured in available seat miles, or ASMs, declined 9.0% to 1.910 billion from 2.099 billion in March 2007. Alaska Air carried 1.344 million revenue passengers in the month of March, down 12.6% from 1.537 million in the preceding year month.

Alaska Air also reported that 70.2% of its flights arrived on time in March 2009, a 7.8 percentage points decline from 78.0% on-time flights reported in March 2008. The airline attributed the decline primarily to eruptions of Mt. Redoubt in Alaska, disrupting operations since March 22, 2009.

For the first three-month period, Alaska Airlines' load factor grew 1.3 percentage points to 75.7% from 74.4% in the year-ago period. Traffic decreased 7.7% to 4.179 billion RPMs from 4.526 billion RPMs in the prior-year period. Capacity declined 9.3% to 5.520 billion ASMs from 6.084 billion in the same period last year.

Horizon Air

Horizon's March load factor was 69.5%, down 4.3 percentage points from 73.8% in the same period in 2007. For March, traffic decreased 20.7% to 191 million RPMs from 241 million RPMs in the same period last year.

Capacity for the month of March declined 15.9% to 275 million ASMs from 327 million ASMs in March 2007. Horizon Air carried 558 thousand revenue passengers in the month of March, down 15.3% from 659 thousand in the preceding year month.

Horizon Air also reported that 86.0% of its flights arrived on time in March 2009, a marginal 0.4 percentage points decline from 86.4% on-time flights reported in March 2008.

For the first three-month period, Horizon's load factor was down 3.3 percentage points to 66.6% from 69.9% in the year-ago period. Traffic decreased 20.4% to 524 million RPMs from 658 million RPMs in the prior-year period. Capacity declined 16.5% to 787 million ASMs from 942 million ASMs in the same period last year.

Fourth Quarter Operational Results

In January, Alaska Air Group reported operational results for the fourth quarter for its subsidiaries, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. Alaska Airlines' mainline passenger traffic for the third quarter dropped 4.4% on a capacity decline of 7.1%. Load factor increased 2.3 percentage points to 77.0%, while mainline passenger revenue per available seat mile increased 5.9%.

Horizon Air's passenger traffic for the quarter declined 22.4% on a 21.1% capacity decrease. Load factor decreased by 1.2 percentage points to 71.4%. Horizon's passenger revenue per available seat mile rose 13.6%, and operating cost per available seat mile, excluding fuel and special items, improved 2.9%.

In Friday's regular trading session, ALK is currently trading at $19.68, down $0.40 or 1.99% on a volume of 38,100 shares. In the past 52-week period, the stock has been trading in a range of $10.10 to $30.95.

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