Continental is always the first to report its monthly operating results, and the December numbers indicate a solid strengthening in business.
The load factor -- the percentage of available seats filled with paying passengers -- was 83.1 percent compared with December 2008, a record. That comprises a domestic load factor of 85.1 percent and international load factor of 81.9 percent, also records for the month. Especially on domestic flights, those numbers indicaate (as if any of us fliers need verification) that nearly all flights are totally full.
Revenue passenger miles, a standard metric measuring one paying customer being flown one mile, were up 3.5 percent domestically and 9.6 percent internationally.
Capacity, or available seat miles, also rose -- up 2.2 percent domestically and 2.5 percent internationally.
But fate still glowers at the airline industry. Just as it appears to be digging out of the long, dreary slump, here comes the nitwit Underpants Bomber on Christmas Day to create security chaos in the airports,
And oil prices crept over $81 a barrel today.
Takes a special kind of steely nerve to run an airline.