Delta, AirTran dealt slumps

Travel declines in June amid recession force airline capacity cuts.

Delta Air Lines' passenger traffic fell 6.3 percent in June compared with a year earlier, the Atlanta-based carrier said Tuesday.

Delta shrank its flight capacity by 5.8 percent, and its planes were 85.5 percent full in the month, down from 86 percent in June 2008.

Delta's domestic passenger traffic declined 4.7 percent, while its international passenger traffic declined 8.7 percent in June compared with a year earlier.

The carrier's business in the Pacific declined the most among the regions reported, with a 17.3 percent drop on those international flights. Delta had cut capacity in the Pacific region by only 5.9 percent. That meant Delta's planes in the Pacific were only 77.2 percent full, down from 87.9 percent a year earlier.

Cargo traffic declined significantly, with a 27.8 percent drop in the month.

Delta continues to trim its international flight schedule, and last month announced it will cut international capacity by 15 percent this year. That includes discontinuing flights from Atlanta to Shanghai, Seoul and Mumbai. For the Shanghai route, which required special federal clearance, the U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday granted Delta's request to discontinue the service until Sept. 1, 2010.

Orlando-based AirTran, which has its largest hub in Atlanta, had a 6.5 percent year-over-year drop in passenger traffic in June and a 5.3 percent drop in flight capacity. Its planes were 83.6 percent full in the month, down from 84.7 percent in June 2008.

Separately, Delta regional subsidiary Comair indicated it will need to furlough more crew members due to steep capacity cuts in Cincinnati and New York, including elimination of regional jet flights between Boston and New York. Other job cuts are already in progress elsewhere at Delta, including pilot furloughs at regional subsidiary Mesaba and a pilot early retirement program at Delta.

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