updated 11/8/2010 7:45:48 AM ET 2010-11-08T12:45:48

EVERGREEN, Colo., Nov. 8, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Airlines are adjusting to the recession well, but there are no signs of any strong traffic recovery in 2011, according to the quarterly Airport Traffic Review just issued by Boyd Group International.

Less Demand –Fewer Airline Seats. At the nation's 150 largest airports, airline passenger traffic declined by 3.0% in the second quarter of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. The airline industry matched seat capacity to this demand, maintaining strong load factors and achieving an average 14.5% more fare revenue per passenger. The average fare paid went from $171.55, including federal fees and taxes, to $196.47. This is in addition to new add-on fees for baggage and other services added in the past year.

"The data show the airline industry has adjusted well to the recession. The strong financial performances reported for the second and third quarters are the result of prudent management – and are not due to any major recovery in traffic demand," stated Michael Boyd, president of the Evergreen, Colorado aviation research firm.

Looking forward, the report reviewed seat capacity in the second half of 2010 with that of 2009. The result is a minor 2% increase, "which is mostly 'noise' and may well be adjusted downward in coming weeks," Boyd added. 

The report notes increasing fares, plus a combination of higher taxes, continued unemployment, and the potential of higher fuel costs, rule out any strong spike in air passenger demand in the coming year. The latest data support the forecast by Boyd Group International of a 2.1% to 2.5% decline in traffic in 2011.

Smaller Airport Fares  – The Gap Is Narrowing. One of the findings was that while it is still more expensive to fly out of a small airport than a very large one, the variance in average fare paid at airports with quarterly passengers under 120,000, compared to the fares at large airports with over three million, was $36.11 in 2010. The variance in 2009 was $42.34. "While the average one-way fares at these well-served mega airports increased by 15.3%, at the nation's smallest airports (those between 20,000 and 120,000 quarterly passengers) the increase was 'only' 9.8%," Boyd noted.

The Airport Traffic Review is published quarterly, and contains extensive tables covering fares and traffic rankings at the top 150 US airports. The complete report can be downloaded at www.AviationPlanning.com.

Founded in 1984, Boyd Group International is a multi-dimensional aviation research and consulting firm based in Evergreen, Colorado, with focus on strategic planning and industry forecasting. Clients include major airlines, airports, financial institutions and labor organizations.

The Boyd Group, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=4857

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