Airline travel continues to rise

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In perhaps another sign that Americans are ready to travel and spend again, new federal statistics show airline traffic grew by nearly 6% in October, compared with the same month in 2009.

During October, U.S. airlines carried 62.1 million passengers, a 5.6% increase over the same month in 2009, but 3.3% below the prerecession levels of Oct. 2007, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Transportation.


The biggest increase came from international travelers, whose numbers rose by nearly 12% in October, compared with the same month in 2009.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport continued to hold the title of busiest U.S. airport, serving 3.7 million passengers in October. Los Angeles International Airport ranked as the fifth busiest, with 1.9 million passengers during that month.

Because most airlines are not adding new planes to serve the growing demand, most aircraft are flying closer to capacity. In October, the nation’s airlines flew planes at an average of 83.1% of full capacity -- the highest rate for any October on record.

-- Hugo Martin