Just a few numbers from Delta's operations report for September show how domestic air travel is evolving. Basically, the evolution continues to means fewer markets, fewer choices, more crowded planes, a system with almost no slack built in.
By the numbers, in September, for domestic operations, Delta:
--Flew 3.3 percent fewer seats than September 2010
--Had load factors (percentage of seats full) of 83 percent -- up 3.2 points.
Simple arithmetic tells the tale. Assuming demand does not fall sharply -- and there is no sign that demand is doing anything more than slowing a bit -- this also will translate into higher fares.