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Allegiant sees passenger counts in May tumble

As expected, schedule reductions to try to offset rising fuel costs led to a drop in the May passenger counts for Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel.

During the month, the 465,000 passengers that boarded scheduled and charter flights marked a 3.7 percent decline from one year ago. For the airline alone, the drop was 5.1 percent.

At the same time, the revenue passenger miles — the distance each seat flies with someone in it — declined 7.1 percent, as the average flight length declined in tandem with the number of passengers. Nevertheless, the load factor, or occupancy rate, rose slightly to 88.1 percent for the company and 92.2 percent for airline.

The amount of flying as measured in seat miles dropped 7.1 percent for the company.

Because the company flies aging versions of the MD-80 airliner and does not purchase fuel hedges to guard against price spikes, reducing the schedule is a primary weapon to offset the sharply rising fuel bill. In addition, Allegiant has hiked ticket prices, so that passenger revenues per seat mile will rise about one-third in May.

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