Alaska Air Group sees 7.8 percent passenger traffic gain in July

Despite increasing competition on its popular routes, SeaTac-based Alaska Air Group reported its passenger traffic grew by more than 7 percent last month.

The company, which owns Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, reported it carried 2,829,000 passengers in July compared with 2,624,000 in the same month in 2013. That’s a 7.8 percent increase.

On a passenger-mile basis (a passenger-mile is one passenger carried one mile), the airline holding company said its traffic rose by 7 percent. That 7 percent increase in traffic mirrored exactly the company’s increase in capacity.

Alaska is bolstering its capacity by replacing older jets with newer, larger planes. The airline also replaced its seats with thinner models that allow each plane to carry more passengers.

Because the increase in capacity matched the increase in traffic, the airline company’s passenger load factor (the percentage of seats filled with paying passengers) stayed the same as a year earlier at 88.6 percent.

Alaska is seeing freshened competition from Delta Air Lines and other carriers on many of its most popular routes as Delta bolsters its presence at Sea-Tac Airport. The airline is making Sea-Tac its West Coast hub for international flights.