Southwest Airlines, the largest carrier serving McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, posted an 8.3 percent decrease in "revenue passenger miles" nationally in November while "available seat miles" remained flat. Load factors in November fell to 63.2 percent, a decline from 69.3 percent in November, 2007.
What it all means is that Southwest carried fewer people in November but did not reduce the number of available seats, a cost-cutting tactic many airlines deploy when sales falter.
For the first 11 months of 2008, Southwest’s “revenue passenger miles” are up 1.7 percent and “available seat miles” are up 4.1 percent. The load factor, the percentage of full seats on a given flight, was 71.3 percent through November, compared to 73 percent last year.
That’s bad news for the airline, because it can’t make money on empty seats. But it is good news for the remaining customers, who get a little more elbow room on their flights.