Air Transport World

NORTH AMERICA REPORT.

U.S. airline traffic (RPMs) rose a sluggish 1% in Jan., ATA reported. Capacity (ASMs) climbed 2.4%, however, and industry load factor declined to 64.1% from 65% in Jan. 1996. This marks the second consecutive month in which load factors declined.

Domestic traffic actually declined .1% in Jan., while capacity rose 1%, resulting in a .7-point drop in load factor to 62.4%. International RPMs climbed 4% compared with a 6.6% rise in seat miles, and load factor fell .9 points to 64.1%.

Despite the weak traffic figures, yield and RASM were up .6% and .4%, respectively, over the year-ago period, according to Lehman Brothers analyst Brian Harris. Stage-length adjusted yield and RASM rose 1.2% and 1.1%, respectively, he said.

U.S airlines suffered three fatal accidents last year, resulting in three deaths, just two of which were passenger deaths, according to U.S. NTSB. In large airline accidents in 1996, 342 persons died. The accident rate per 100,000 flight hours rose to .290 from .243 but the fatal rate declined to .021 from .023. The accident rate per 100,000 departures rose to .442 from .395 but the fatal rate fell to .032 from .037.

Nonscheduled airlines, including cargo airlines, suffered seven accidents, one fatal, in which five persons were killed. The accident rate per 100,000 hours rose to .886 from .775 hut the fatal rate fell to .127 from .258. The accident rate per 100,000 departures was 1.867, up from 1.589 but the fatal rate dropped to .267 from .530.

Regionals suffered 16 accidents, five of which were fatal. As of March 20, 1997, only aircraft with fewer than 10 seats are included in the Regional category, with everything else shifted into the big-airline category. Because of this change in classification, 1997 accident rates are not comparable with rates from prior years. …

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