Airline operator US Airways Group, Inc. (LCC) Friday reported operational results for the month of March. Consolidated traffic declined 8.8%, capacity decreased 5.9%, and load factor slipped 2.5 percentage points. For the month, US Airways' Mainline traffic declined 8.9%, capacity decreased 6.1%, and load factor slipped 2.6 percentage points. US Airways attributed the across the table decline to Easter holiday shift from March in 2008 to April in 2009 as well as weak demand for travel.

The company noted that consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile, or PRASM, for the month of March was negatively impacted by about 17% to 19% due to the Easter holiday shift and weak demand. US Airways' total revenue per available seat mile on a year-over-year basis fell between 13% and 15%. The company added that the new fees introduced for on-board items and services offset some of these weaknesses.

As per the recently released monthly Air Travel Consumer Report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, US Airways was America's number one on-time airline in 2008 among the Big Six hub-and-spoke airlines.

US Airways Mainline Results

The Mainline operations of the airlines cover American, Atlantic and Latin regions. Canada, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands operations are included in the American results, and Latin numbers include the Caribbean operations.

US Airways' March Mainline traffic, measured in revenue passenger miles, or RPMs, declined 8.9% to 4.913 billion from 5.393 billion for the same month last year. American region traffic declined 10.9% and Atlantic region traffic decreased 7.4%, while Latin region traffic increased 7.2%.

Mainline capacity, measured in terms of available seat miles, or ASMs, also decreased 6.1% to 5.997 billion from 6.386 billion in March 2007. American region capacity declined 10.2%, while Atlantic region capacity grew 3.6%, and Latin region capacity climbed 18.5%.

Mainline passenger load factor for the month of March was 81.9%, down 2.6 percentage points from 84.5% in the year-ago month. American region load factor edged down 0.7 percentage points, Atlantic region load factor decreased 8.7 percentage points, and Latin region load factor declined 8.1 percentage points.

Total Mainline enplanements in March dropped 8.9% to 4.518 million from 4.959 million in March last year. Enplanements for American region declined 10.2% and Atlantic region decreased 8.3%, while Latin region increased 6.5%.

For the year-to date period, Mainline traffic slipped 8.1% to 13.309 billion RPMs from 14.489 billion RPMs in the year-ago period. Mainline capacity declined 7.4% to 16.979 billion ASMs from 18.335 billion ASMs in the prior-year period. Mainline load factor for the period also edged down 0.6 percentage points to 78.4% from 79.0% in the same period last year.

US Airways Express Results

The Express operations of the airlines cover only American region, including Canadian operations. It also includes operations of the airlines' regional airline subsidiaries and affiliates, Piedmont Airlines and PSA Airlines, operating as US Airways Express.

US Airways' March Express traffic slipped 6.1% to 175.58 million RPMs from 186.93 million RPMs in the year-ago month. Express capacity declined 2.1% to 263.98 million ASMs from 269.70 million ASMs in March 2007. Express load factor for the month of March also dropped 2.8 percentage points to 66.5% from 69.3% in the same month last year. Total Express enplanements in March edged down 1.5% to 652.05 thousand from 662.13 thousand in March last year.

For the year-to-date period, Express traffic dipped 7.3% to 470.37 million RPMs from 507.34 million RPMs in the year-ago period. Express capacity declined 2.9% to 761.42 million ASMs from 783.92 million ASMs in the prior-year period. Express load factor for the period also dropped 2.9 percentage points to 61.8% from 64.7% in the same period last year.

Consolidated Results

US Airways' consolidated March traffic slipped 8.8% to 5.089 billion RPMs from 5.580 billion RPMs in the year-ago month. Consolidated capacity declined 5.9% to 6.261 billion ASMs from 6.656 billion ASMs in March 2007.

Consolidated load factor for the month of March also dropped 2.5 percentage points to 81.3% from 83.8% in the same month last year. Total consolidated enplanements in March dropped 7.7% to 5.170 million from 5.621 million in March last year.

For the year-to-date period, US Airways' consolidated March traffic slipped 8.1% to 13.779 billion RPMs from 14.997 billion RPMs in the year-ago period. Consolidated capacity declined 7.2% to 17.741 billion ASMs from 19.19 billion ASMs in the prior-year period. Consolidated load factor for the month of March also edged down 0.7 percentage points to 77.7% from 78.4% in the same period last year.

The economic crisis has crippled the tourism industry and business travel has become less, all hurting the revenues of airline companies. It was reported on February 11 that US Airways is planning to reduce 233 of its ramp workers and gate and ticket agents. The company has reportedly attributed the decision to loss of contracts with other airlines, less flying and slower attrition rates. The company had 33,731 employees as of February 1.

In Friday's regular trading session, LCC is currently trading at $2.78, down $0.05 or 1.77% on a volume of 0.84 million shares. In the past 52-week period, the stock has been trading in a broad range of $1.45 to $11.24.

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