The combined traffic of Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways declined 2.7 percent in January, on a 0.7 percent reduction in capacity compared to January 2011, Southwest said Tuesday. The percentage of seats filled declined 1.5 points to 74.3 percent.

[CORRECTION: Above numbers have been corrected. Earlier figures were incorrect.]

Southwest said that the passenger revenue per available seat mile in January increased about 7 percent compared to a year earlier.

Southwest chief financial officer Laura Wright told the Raymond James airline conference Thursday that the carrier expects January’s trends to continue this month.

“February is on track to be up in a similar range and at this point, we expect March to be a more difficult comparison because of the timing of Easter versus last year,” Wright said.

We note that it’s hard to make year-over-year comparisons on traffic and capacity because we don’t know how Southwest is doing compared to Southwest, and how AirTran is doing compared to AirTran.

In January 2011, when the carriers were reporting their numbers separately, Southwest had a load factor of 76 percent and AirTran had a load factor of 74.8 percent. With numbers combined, Southwest said Tuesday that the two had a load factor of 75.8 percent in January 2011.

Hawaiian Airlines said its traffic increased 12.9 percent on an 11.4 percent increase in capacity. Loads increased one percentage point to 83.4 percent.

Monday evening, Allegiant Air reported its traffic climbed 7.2 percent on 9.9 percent growth in capacity. Load factor was down 2.3 points to 89.5 percent.

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