Alaska Airlines Traffic Is Down

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Seattle, Wash. (AP)--Alaska Airlines said passenger traffic decreased 18.7 percent in September, compared with the same month last year, as the airline grappled with fallout from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Seattle-based airline, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group, said it operated 76 percent of its normal flight schedule during the month, echoing a trend across the airline industry.

Airplanes were grounded for two days following the attacks, and a fear of flying kept many would-be travelers out of the skies once the Federal Aviation Association allowed commercial air traffic to resume.

The airline said its passenger load factor _ the percentage of available seats used _ was 60.7 percent, compared with 62.7 percent in the same month last year.

Horizon Airlines, the commuter airline also owned by Alaska Air Group, saw a steeper, 31.7 percent decrease in passenger traffic in September.

That airline was flying at 77 percent of its normal flight schedule and said its load factor was just 54.8 percent for the month. That compares with 59.1 percent in September of last year.

Airlines across the country have announced layoffs and cut back flight schedules following the attacks, which crippled the already ailing industry. Many airlines have sought help from a government bailout plan.

Alaska has managed to avoid the worst of these economic effects, thanks to a hefty cash reserve.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press