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Continental Traffic Up 13.7% in June

Surging passenger traffic, most notably on Latin American routes, filled planes and boosted revenue at Continental Airlines (CAL) last month.

Continental said consolidated revenue passenger miles, a gauge of passenger traffic, jumped 13.7% to 8.22 billion in June from 7.23 billion a year earlier. Traffic grew the most -- 25.1% -- on Latin American routes and jumped 19.6% on routes across the Atlantic. Domestic routes saw a 9.0% increase, and Pacific flights a 7.4% rise.

Mainline traffic, which excludes smaller, regional flights, rose 13.2%.

With demand strong, Continental has been boosting capacity, which is measured by available seat miles, or ASMs. Consolidated capacity rose 10.6% in June to 9.73 billion ASMs from 8.80 billion in June 2005. Mainline ASMs increased by 10.7%.

With demand outpacing supply, Continental filled more of its planes in June than a year before and logged record load factors for the month. Its consolidated load factor, which measures the average percentage of seats filled on all its flights, rose 2.3 percentage points to 84.5%. The mainline load factor rose 1.9 points to 84.8%.

Strong demand also pushed unit revenue higher. The carrier estimated that revenue per available seat mile, or RASM, increased between 10.5% and 11.5% from a year before. Mainline RASM, which is closely watched by Wall Street analysts, rose between 9.0% and 10.0% year over year.

Continental is the fifth largest U.S. airline when ranked by 2005 traffic numbers. Its monthly reports are closely watched because most other major airlines do not disclose RASM on a monthly basis.

Continental shares fell 30 cents, or 1.0%, to $29.50 Monday.

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